From The Leonard Cohen Food Files: Chili Dog Events

I suspect the list of music icons throughout history who favored Chateau La Tour 1982, Lagavulin single malt Scotch, and various cognacs and also enjoyed a well prepared hot dog resolves to one entry; Leonard Cohen. But, at least three Cohencentric posts attest to the Canadian singer-songwriter’s frankfurter fetish.

Today’s offering features an unrequited request for a chili dog. It’s also a pretty good story about an getting an interview with Leonard.

Twenty-five years ago, almost to the day, I sat in the bar of Toronto’s King Edward Hotel asking Leonard Cohen questions about Art and Life, Truth and Beauty, the Sacred and the Profane. A week earlier, in a different establishment across town, I’d been asking him whether he wanted fries or salad with his chili dog. He’d just come down from the mountain — Mount Baldy near LA, that is, where he’d been rigorously observing an ascetic lifestyle in a Zen monastery — and there he was, in my section, ordering a hot dog and Coke. Fortunately, the restaurant happened to be empty apart from Mr. Cohen and his female companion (the distraction of serving my biggest idol might have doomed my other tables). Not so fortunately, as the chef tardily informed me, we’d run out of chili dogs. After working up the courage to break this news — which (must’ve been the Zen thing) he accepted with admirable composure — I worked up the courage to ask him for an interview. I was a 21-year-old waiter and would-be writer working in downtown Toronto (some things, apart from age, don’t seem to change). The woman I was living with, in a dying relationship, was perhaps an even bigger Cohen fan than myself. When she heard that I’d met Leonard and would be interviewing him at the King Eddie, where he was filming I Am a Hotel, and when it was quite clear that I would not be divulging his room number, she threatened to split up with me. It was one of those let-me-get-this-straight moments: if I refused to provide my girlfriend with the directions to another man’s bedroom, I would be history. But such was the allure of Canada’s “melancholy bard of popular music.” (By the way, Suzie, it was Room 327!)

From Encountering Cohen: A Reminiscence On The Eve Of A New World Tour by Steve Venright. Mondo Magazine: August 15, 2008 (original interview date May 1983).

Credit Due Department: Photo by bryan… from Taipei, Taiwan – 起士熱狗堡, 皇后美食館, Queens Cuisine, 台北, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons.