Eataly’s Vegetable Butcher Revealed

Photo: Patrick McMullan

Much to many a carnivore’s consternation, unrestrained vegetable-eating is on the rise, and to stay on top of the trend, Eataly has seen fit to put a full-time vegetable butcher on the books. That’s right. A vegetable butcher. And not just your average, run-of-the-mill vegetable butcher, but a vegetable butcher who went to Harvard, attended the Culinary Institute of America, and who also happens to be the brilliant installation artist Jennifer Rubell. It was during a midnight conversation at Del Posto, says Rubell, that she and her friend Mario Batali brainstormed the idea. (Who knows? Maybe they had had a little wine.) “You know Mario,” she says. “No matter how late at night you have a conversation with him, it’s not like he forgets, and that’s how I became the vegetable butcher.”

And what exactly does a vegetable butcher do? “Anything you want,” says Batali. “If you’re not familiar with how to trim an artichoke, we’ll trim you an artichoke. If you don’t think you have time to peel your baby carrots, you can leave them with us and go shop in the other parts of the store, and we’ll peel them. We’ll do anything other than cook them.” In case you were wondering, the service is free, but as for those carrot trimmings, they will cost you: The vegetable butcher will place them in a separate bag that will be weighed at the checkout counter, and then deposited into a handy compost bin. So is it art or is it commerce? “You know the line between what I do that’s art and isn’t art is so super-fuzzy,” says Rubell. “So it’s authentically a part of Eataly, and it will exist after I stop doing it. But at the same time, I see it as a kind of performance.”