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.