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Restaurant Walls Come Tumbling, Crumbling Down

In today's tag team endeavor for the LA Times, Leslie Brenner and Betty Hallock explain how dining theatrics are venturing beyond the excitement of a simple chef's table. Apparently sweaty men tossing searing cast-iron skillets centimeters above your head in the kitchen is just not enough; now Eric Greenspan barking orders from the back of The Foundry's dining room is reason to make reservations. It's all about the show these days, with audience participation, flame-throwing, and tableside chemistry experiments:

The Foundry isn't the only restaurant in town that's broken the fourth wall. A "bar chef" has also broken out at Fraîche, a new restaurant in Culver City, landing in the dining room, where he flambés drinks not tableside, but tabletop. At Ketchup, a slick Sunset Strip hamburger joint, a roving bartender rolls up her cart to mix cocktails tableside. And at Mozza, the open kitchen concept has gone so intimate that diners at the bar can feel the heat of the pizza oven while they watch chef Nancy Silverton at work. It's all so close those diners can literally grab ingredients and gobble them up. And sometimes, they do.

Although some chefs, like Silverton, say they're getting in the middle of things to interact with customers, it's obvious that the theatrical nature of this dinner-and-a-show concept is a direct response to the glamorization of chef life on TV. Which is why Greenspan says he's installing a video camera at The Foundry's pass this week. Next month FoundryTV goes live, streaming video and audio nightly to hungry, jealous viewers at home.
· Restaurants break the fourth wall [LAT]
· The Foundry on Melrose Sneak Peek [~ELA~]
· Breaking: The Foundry debuts May 1 [~ELA~]
· Plywood Special Report: The Foundry on Melrose [~ELA~]