George E. Lang


Honorary Degree (1994)
Doctor of Humane Letters
Location: Bloomington
Presenter: Thomas Ehrlich


Accomplished musician, renowned chef, successful writer, innovative designer, civic leader, and businessman: all of these words describe the remarkable George Lang. In the nearly fifty years since he came to this country as a refugee following World War II, he has combined his aesthetic sense with business acumen to become a leader in the hotel and restaurant industry and a respected scholar of the culinary arts. During that process, he has enriched the lives of thousands of people here and abroad, giving them a new appreciation of the beauty and elegance possible in everyday activities.

Born in Hungary in 1924, Mr. Lang came to this country in 1946 and entered the Juilliard School to continue his study of classical violin. In 1949 he took a position as violinist with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, but soon gave up his musical career to become a culinary artist. Under an apprenticeship with the renowned Philippe at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, Mr. Lang supervised dinners for such luminaries as Queen Elizabeth, King Faisal and Princess Grace. Later he was co-creator and manager of the Four Seasons Restaurant in New York, and also designed several of the pavilions at the New York World's Fair. His first culinary book, THE CUISINE OF HUNGARY, was published in 1971; by that time he was already a columnist for TRAVEL AND LEISURE magazine and a consulting editor for TIME-LIFE FOODS OF THE WORLD.

Mr. Lang continued to seek out challenges as a restaurateur. He successfully created two world-class restaurants in different parts of the world: the Cafe des Artistes in New York, and the revived Gundel restaurant in Budapest. His place in culinary scholarship was cemented with the publication in 1980 of both LANG'S COMPENDIUM OF CULINARY NONSENSE AND TRIVIA and the CAFE DES ARTISTES COOKBOOK. Mr. Lang is now president of the George Lang Corporation, which designs and manages all manner of leisure and dining spaces. To date, Mr. Lang has developed and implemented more than 500 projects around the world.

Distinguished public service and philanthropy round out George Lang's illustrious career. He was a commissioner for the Bicentennial Committee of the United States. He is a trustee of Carnegie Hall and of the Metropolitan Opera, and a board member of the Eva Janzer Memorial Cello Center at Indiana University. His generosity has included the gift of an eighteenth-century violin for use by students at Indiana University. George Lang has been called a "Renaissance man" by people as diverse as conductor Sir Georg Solti and columnist William Safire. Through his many abilities and his keen sense of beauty, he is a creator of style and a communicator to all of us about the art of living.