Raphael Pallais

New York
Raphael Pallais

Title: Chef Concierge, The Plaza

Born and bred: I was born in Nicaragua and left for Paris when I turned five. My father was a French-Nicaraguan soldier with the Allied Forces in North Africa. He married the Parisian stepdaughter of famed poster artist A.M. Cassandre.

Why New York? In France we say “cherchez la femme” — I married an American ballet dancer, who, although originally from New Orleans, wanted to live in New York.

Lingua franca: French, bien sur, as well as Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and a smattering of English.

What’s that accent? Who knows? It’s now a hodgepodge of French, Spanish, Italian and various American dialects — from New Orleans to New York by way of San Francisco perhaps?

Could be confused for… a Spaniard, Latino, Italian, Hungarian, Middle Easterner, Turkish — I’ve heard it all.

On your iPod right now:
Actually, I’m strictly an iPhone guy. Besides the Complete Works of Shakespeare — one sonnet a day keeps the shrink away — I listen to Robert Reich and other New Age-y music.

Secret talent: Besides the really secret stuff, I confess to having written a musical. Based on the life of Dominican playboy Porfirio Rubirosa, it’s a collaboration with a lyricist and a composer and it’s ready for production. Broadway angels are welcome!

Private passion: I am a writer. Two of my non-fiction books have been published and I am in the process of attempting to publish a novel — but no concierge revelations, I promise!

Can’t live without:
My Spanish guitar, purchased in Madrid in 1980.

How you got into this racket:
Twenty-two years ago I had a chance interview with an old-school hotelier who told me I would make an excellent concierge (whatever that meant at the time!). I accepted and voilà: another concierge to the manner born!

Personal motto:
Acta, non verba.

Best advice ever: Acta, non verba.

Best non-monetary tip: Acta, non — just joking! A bottle of 1952 Chateau Cheval Blanc.

Favorite A-list guest: Dennis Farina. On 9/11 he immediately came down to the lobby and said: I’ve seen it on TV. I am available for any help, blood drives, anything. Just let me know.

Most magical moment: A little girl, not quite two years old, barely walking, came to the desk and in a barely audible voice asked where Eloise was.

What makes a good concierge?
True, solid empathy.

Most common misconception: That we are in charge of BS Central.

If you weren't loving the concierge life: I would just write and paint.

Can't travel without: My family. (My kids have traipsed with me everywhere, from the Mayan Riviera to the French Riviera.)

Home away from home: Paris, of course.

If you could be anywhere… I would be sipping a glass of wine at Les Baux de Provence, a tiny medieval castle town in the middle of Provence with a sweeping view of the distant Alps. Why? Because you can see forever. Because the town is ensconced in French history. Because it is possessed of a unique, ravishing civilized beauty.