UPDATE, JULY 30, 2013: It is with sadness that I have just learned that Louis Janetta passed away yesterday at the age of 85. I am very grateful to Zoltan Szabo who made the interview below possible in the fall of 2011, and I am very proud that Mr. Janetta agreed to it and that Good Food Revolution had the opportunity to feature such a legendary man. – Malcolm Jolley

Louis Jannetta lied about his age so he could get a job as a busboy at The Royal York Hotel to help support his Italian immigrant family during the Second War. Despite being fired, he managed to get rehired and go on to be Toronto’s most powerful and well known maitre’d during the hey day of the Imperial Room. Anyone who was anyone in Toronto walked across Janetta’s threshold and were taken care of by his team of 85 hospitality workers.

GFR’s Zoltan Szabo knows Louis Jannetta well, since it was him who gave Szabo his first job in Canada washing dishes and then on the floor of his 1990s restaurant venture, Louis Jannetta’s Place. Earlier this month, Zoltan invited me to join him and Janetta for lunch at Michael’s Back Door in Missassauga where we ate the best penne arabia I’ve had outside of Italy as the guest of proprietor Michael Morra, served by his nephew (and Royal York alumnus) Mario Della Savia. It was a magical lunch full of amazing stories of the restaurant and nightlife scene in Toronto in the 1960s, 70s and 80s.

I’ve captured a taste of our lunch in the video below, which touches on a few of the great anecdotes Janetta records in his autobiography, The King of Maitre’D’s: My Among the Stars, including his enduring friendship with Tony Bennett and what advice he has for young restaurateurs and service professionals starting out today.

Can’t see the video? Click here.

Malcolm Jolley is a founding editor of Good Food Revolution and Executive Director of Good Food Media, the non-profit organization that publishes GFR. Follow him at twitter.com/malcolmjolley. Photo: John Gundy.