During the 1950’s and 60’s Glenn Gould would retreat to the family cottage in Uptergrove, Ontario.
In the nearby town of Orillia, there was a Chinese Restaurant called The Shangdi-La, otherwise known locally as “The Shang”. It was on the main street of Orillia, called Mississauga Street which leads down to the Lake. Almost every evening Glenn would make the ten minute drive from the cottage to the restaurant for dinner. He would arrive there about five o’clock with a copy of the Toronto Telegram newspaper under his arm. The owner who was named Jim Seto would seat Glenn at the back of the restaurant at his usual table. Often, after Glenn became famous, Jim would play Glenn’s records in the restaurant, showcasing their local star. Glenn would often ‘mime’ the piano as the music was playing.
When we interviewed Bill Seto, Jim’s son, who served Glenn at this time, he fondly recounted his memories of Glenn at The Shang. Glenn’s usual meal included about six dinner rolls accompanied by half a pound of butter, a steak with mashed potatoes, daily vegetable, and tea with cream! For dessert Glenn would always enjoy a piece of coconut cream pie. He would spend about two hours dinning and would read the entire paper from front to back. Glenn was always very polite and valued his privacy while he dined, and all of the staff respected this.
Bill Seto recounted that one evening a local doctor, who was also an amateur pianist, while dining in the restaurant noticed Mr Gould sitting at the back booth. He approached Bill and asked if he could be introduced to Glenn. Bill sheepishly enquired of Glenn if this would be agreeable to bring the local doctor over for him to meet. Glenn’s reply was, “no Bill, I don’t want to meet him – I don’t know him”. He was adamant that he absolutely did not want to meet this man. No doubt the doctor was very disappointed.
Bill said that he always worried about Glenn’s health, because of his unhealthy eating habits. Most Gould devotees know Glenn’s diet to consist mainly of scrambled eggs, but this story illustrates the little known fact that earlier in his life he was indeed a meat eater, and loved cream in his tea!
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