Together with Alcatraz Cruises, Hyatt Regency San Francisco is the temporary home of the “Alcatraz: Life on the Rock” Culture Club exhibit. As of July 25, 2013, the 3,000 square foot display will be enhanced with “Alcatraz: The Last Day” photo exhibition, a never seen before collection by Life Magazine photographer Leigh Wiener. Additionally, the hotel’s Eclipse Restaurant will be introducing a commemorative menu from “The Rock.”
“Alcatraz: Life on the Rock”
“Alcatraz: Life on the Rock” is now on exhibit throughout Hyatt Regency San Francisco’s Guinness Book of World Records “largest atrium lobby.” The exhibit showcases Alcatraz Island’s fascinating history and infamous inmates. Specific installations include “How Do You Know Alcatraz?” which offers a compelling introduction, complete with a model of the island and a look at The Rock’s place in history and in movies. Additionally, there are four quadrants that feature the following: a “Military History”; an authentic replica of a prison cell that is the centerpiece of the “Life on the Inside”; “Strength: The Native American Indian Occupation”; and “Preserving the Rock.”
“Alcatraz: The Last Day”
Upon the announcement of the Alcatraz Penitentiary closure in 1963, news agencies around the world assigned photographers to cover the historic event.. Life Magazine called upon California-based photographer Leigh Wiener, a seasoned professional who fulfilled over a hundred assignments for the magazine. While Wiener had a large lay-out in the (date?) issue of Life Magazine, many of Wiener’s 300+ photographs captured on March 21, 1963 remained unpublished, filed away in his archive, until they were revealed 45 years later. In 2008, while inventorying his late father’s photographic legacy of nearly 1/2 a million proof sheets and negatives, Devik Wiener would discover this treasure trove of images taken on the closing day of Alcatraz. In 2012, “Alcatraz: The Last Day,” a book of Leigh Wiener’s never-before seen photographs, was published by The Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy. Twenty five of these images are now on display to complement the exhibit “Alcatraz: Life on the Rock” that is free and open to the public at Hyatt Regency San Francisco.
Commemorative Menu “The Rock”
It is widely known that Alcatraz had the reputation for dishing up the best prison food in the United States. Perhaps the concept of “Farm to Table” was established on “The Rock” well before local, modern gourmands conjured up this “new” culinary trend.
Available from August 8 through September 2, 2013, Eclipse Restaurant at Hyatt Regency San Francisco will feature a special commemorative “Alcatraz” dinner menu from 5:00-10:00pm, seven days a week. The cost is $28 per person and includes a starter, choice of entrée with side dishes; and dessert. Below is the menu that will be served in Eclipse, an interpretation of the hotel’s Executive Chef Victor Litkewycz’s. The Alcatraz menu is Litkewycz’s modern-day version of what might be served today, if Alcatraz was still in operation…using modern cooking styles, ingredients and presentation.
Alcatraz Commemorative Menu 2013
(An interpretation by Hyatt Regency San Francisco Executive Chef Victor Litkewycz
Starter: Clam Chowder
Choice of Entrée: Boiled Short Ribs with Horseradish Sauce; Baked Meat Loaf with Pan Gravy; Spaghetti Italienne; or Baked Halibut with Spanish Sauce
Served with: Lettuce Salad; Fresh Green Beans; and Mashed Potatoes
Dessert: Banana Bread Pudding
Recollections from former Alcatraz inmate William Baker
Former Alcatraz inmate William Baker recalls, “I remember some of my favorite food items at ‘The Rock,’ but I doubt if anyone outside of Alcatraz would believe it.” He continues, “The food at Alcatraz was as good as you would get in a good restaurant that specialized in home-cooked meals, better than most.” Baker specifies his basis on the following: #1 – There was a small population for whom to cook (only about 250 prisoners to feed); #2 – Convict cooks took pride in their work plus a population who were capable of causing serious damage if they didn’t get fed; #3 – Original Warden Johnson said he believed most trouble in prisons was caused by bad food. Johnson’s food policies were continued by Warden Paul Madigan, who was at the helm when Baker was serving time; #4 – There was no commissary at Alcatraz, as there were in other prisons, so inmates couldn’t buy any mid-day goodies no matter…the only food available on the island was served in the mess hall; and #5 – Alcatraz had plenty of resources to buy the best food available. One of Baker’s favorite meals at Alcatraz was spaghetti as an old Italian convict cook started simmering his sauce. The spaghetti dinner was always served with a big chunk of apple pie and a side dish of butter beans, plus a delicious anti pasta salad with olives and anchovies. Baker comments, “Man it was good. Every meal was good!” (Note to editors: former prisoner William Baker is available for interviews)
Tips from former inmate Baker to chefs of all aptitudes:
“If you want to duplicate the food at Alcatraz, you’d better have a good cook who takes pride in his/her work and the money to buy what he/she needs. And, at least for one day, don’t let the diet faddists get anywhere near the kitchen. If you cook fried chicken or pork chops, make sure to cook it in the frying pan with lots of rich breading and very greasy grease…and make the gravy right in the frying pan with the fat droppings, use milk, not water. I repeat, don’t let the diet faddists anywhere near the kitchen.”
The “Alcatraz: Life on the Rock” and “Alcatraz: The Last Day” exhibits are free and open to the public at the Hyatt Regency San Francisco, Five Embarcadero Center, San Francisco. The Eclipse menu is served as previously indicated above. For more information, call (415) 788-1234 or visit www.sanfranciscoregency.hyatt.com
For more information about “Alcatraz: Life on the Rock” and “Alcatraz: The Last Day,” visit http://www.alcatrazcruises.com/exhibit/index.html