Third Place Books is thrilled to welcome local visual artist and writer Eric Pitsenbarger to our Seward Park store! Pitsenbarger will be discussing his debut memoir, Beaujolais in My Blood: Growing up Gay and Well-Fed in a Family-Run French Restaurant, the nostalgic, bittersweet, transformational origin story of Mendocino's landmark restaurant Cafe Beaujolais told through the perspective of a disgruntled, closeted teenager. He is joined in conversation by local journalist Marcie Sillman. This event is free and open to the public. Registration is required in advance.
This event will include a public signing and time for audience Q&A. Sustain our author series by purchasing a copy of the featured book!
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Against the backdrop of immense cultural shift in the late-1960s, in the unique setting of Mendocino, California, here is a poignant telling of what it was like for a closeted gay kid working and living in a family-run French restaurant.
Frequented by eccentric locals, tourists, and movie stars, Cafe Beaujolais became a local landmark. And though it has seen several incarnations, it remains the standard for fine dining on the Northern California coast.
Beaujolais in My Blood spans from the inception of the restaurant by Eric's parents to its eventual sale. While he witnesses the evolution of his parents' dream-moving away from TV dinners, and toward an appreciation of well-prepared food-he is all the while a young man discovering his true nature and the meaning of service through hard work and self-discovery. The result is a coming of age (and coming out) story told with grit and humor. Finally, here is the story of Cafe Beaujolais' colorful origin.
"The author's early home life is nothing like what we find in most coming-out/coming-of-age stories. If you expect 'normal', you'll be disappointed."
—Eleanor Cooney, author of Court of the Lion and Death in Slow Motion
"A revealing account behind Mendocino's most well-known restaurant. Eric presents a rich kaleidoscope reflecting a complex family story intermingled with the improbable creation of a restaurant dream. From early years through adulthood, his perspective reflects sensitivity, insight, and wisdom that are at time poignant, caring, hilarious, and ultimately satisfying."
—Margaret Fox, author of Cafe Beaujolais and Morning Food
"Beaujolais in My Blood is a rollicking you-are-there account of a boyhood spent deep in 1970s Bay Area Bohemia. All the classic components - unconventional parenting, wild childhood freedoms, beat poetry - are here and colorfully represented, but it's the surprising deviations and unearthed secrets that you remember most."
—David Schmader, author of Filmlandia!
"Beaujolais in My Blood is tough and vivid as a powerlifter in butterfly wings. All at once it's a thrilling, hair-on-fire foodie history, a gay coming-of-age drama, and a piercing, you-are-there slice of '70s California counterculture. Eric Pitsenbarger's memoir takes you behind the scenes of a quiet revolution as he and his family pioneer farm-to-table fine dining. Alice Waters and Chez Panisse made it a national standard, but Cafe Beaujolais did it first, backwards in heels and smeared lipstick, upside down and fantastic, here told in Eric's singular voice."
—Clane Hayward, author of Hypocrisy of Disco
Eric Neil Pitsenbarger is a visual artist, writer, and occasional performer. Designer of book covers, blogger for performance venues, ghost writer for other artists, an award winning food server, this is his first book. He lives in Seattle with his husband, Wade.
Marcie Sillman is an award-winning arts journalist based in Seattle. She spent 35 years at KUOW radio, where she filed hundreds of national feature stories about arts and culture in the Pacific Northwest. She currently writes for numerous local, national, and international publications including Dance Media, Seattle Times and Crosscut, and co-hosts the arts and culture podcast doubleXposure.
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