Photo credit: © Joe McNally
Accession Number: C.2020.37.1
Dimensions: 109 in X 44 in X 1/16 in
Dimensions (Metric): 276.86 cm X 111.76 cm X 2.54 cm
Credit Line: Collection 9/11 Memorial Museum. © Joe McNally.
Michael Lomonaco, Executive Chef, Windows on the World, 1 World Trade
Life-sized Polaroid photograph taken by Joe McNally depicting Windows on the World Chef, Michael Lomonaco. Lomonaco is wearing his Chef's jacket and holding a pair of glasses.
In 1997, Michael Lomonaco was hired as Executive Chef at Windows on the World located on the 106 and 107th floors of the World Trade Center’s North Tower. The mission assigned to the Brooklyn-born native and chef innovator was twofold: run the kitchen of the popular dining venue and transition its traditional French menu to a modern American cuisine and wine list. Lomonaco’s success was quick, measured in food critics’ accolades and Windows on the World’s subsequent ranking as one of America’s highest grossing restaurants.
On the morning of 9/11, Lomonaco was delayed arriving at his kitchen having stopped to vote in the primary election. By the time he arrived in lower Manhattan, he was already running late and stopped at the Lens Crafters store in the Concourse level of the World Trade Center to get his eyeglasses fixed. Around 8:46 a.m., while settling his bill for services rendered, Lomonaco felt a strange shaking and rumbling underfoot, which turned out to be the impact of hijacked Flight 11 crashing into the North Tower. Upon heading to street-level, he was horrified by the sight of fires and black smoke engulfing the upper floors of the building where he worked. He was urged by first responders to evacuate the area.
By day’s end, Lomonaco was wrestling with the unfathomable grief of having lost over 70 coworkers and then unknown numbers of Windows on the World guests and conference attendees. In the aftermath, he channeled some of that personal sorrow into preparing meals for the Ground Zero recovery workers. He also assumed a leading role in establishing Windows of Hope, a charitable relief foundation focused on aiding families of victims working in the food, beverage and hospitality industry.
Michael Lomonaco has contributed his story to the 9/11 Memorial Museum’s oral history collection as well as recorded remembrances for Windows on the World colleagues.