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Who Is Eli Zabar? New York’s Food Culture Hero Defies Definition

Source: Muy Yum via flickr

It’s a fact worth repeating:  The food world’s most-important people are not necessarily its most recognized. Sure there’s Bobby Flay and Paula Deen (remember her?);  But for every Emeril Legasse – who touts his pots, pans, and cookbooks on the shopping network, there’s two-handfuls of people you may not have ever heard of that truly dictate the trends and create the foods and ingredients that set the culinary world a blaze.

Eli Zabar is one of those individuals.

Son to Louis Zabar – the founder of Zabar’s, the iconic specialty food shop in Manhattan – Eli split from his brothers – out on his own – to create his own mark on the New York food industry.  Eli Zabar is the man responsible for food-related stores like E.A.T. and the Vinegar Factory.

Along the way, the eccentric man who mentored Ina Garten has become a respected figure in the U.S. culinary world.

The article may be a little dated (it’s from 1993) – but this New York Times piece gives a magnificent eyewitness glimpse into the man.

AT WORK WITH: Eli Zabar; A New Hero for ‘Waste Not, Want Not’ – New York Times.

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