Kozy Shack Founder Dies, Grub Street Mourns
Vinnie Gruppuso, the founder of Kozy Shack pudding, died today. It is a dark day on Grub Street, since Kozy Shack was not just our favorite pudding (a confection so potent it practically qualified as a controlled substance), but also a modern rarity: a New York–area manufacturing story without an unhappy ending. The Kozy Shack factory in Hicksville is no Wonka–like wonderland, but the sight of an entire eighteen-wheeler loaded with whole milk, the secret to the pudding’s mouth-filling fullness, gave us that kind of feeling. And Gruppuso’s story is a kind of ultimate foodie fantasy. He was a blue-collar guy, a bread deliveryman who happened to fall in love with the pudding made by a deli in Ridgefield. We’ve all had such crushes. But Gruppuso bought the recipe when the deli closed and essentially married it, investing everything in Kozy Shack and eventually building a pudding empire. Tonight we will have a toast for Vinnie Gruppuso with our favorite cordial: Kozy Shack chocolate pudding, straight from the tub, with a chaser of melancholy.
Vincent Gruppuso, 67, Seller of Pudding Snacks, Dies [NYT]
BBQ Brethren Speaks!
Now here we thought that the Barbecue Brethren were a bunch of byzantine schemers, taking potshots at their enemies and vice versa, while the world looked on in indifference. But it turns out that we were wrong! Eric Devlin, an articulate fellow who happens to belong to that group, set us straight in a missive as notable for its refined tone and polished eloquence as for the fact that it is totally insane. Further proof of the Brethren’s non-omnipotence can be found in the fact that none of their members won last weekend’s Ribfest; the laurels went to Boston’s I Que.
New York’s Barbecue Illuminati — Revealed!
Anyone who happened to read a recent White Trash BBQ post about the upcoming Hudson Valley Ribfest contest was bound to be confused. We love the contest, and have even won one of its categories in the past, but the part that got us was the dark allusion to a conspiracy of harassment: “I’m also worried a bit about the actions of a certain tribe in the barbeque world. Some of them will be at New Paltz. They’ve screwed with me and my friends before, and I don’t put it past them to do it again,” White Trash BBQ wrote.
Beard’s Finances Questioned; Restaurants Manipulate ZagatThe Beard Foundation, in the spotlight as Monday’s awards approach, is still on shaky ground financially, and questions still linger about the way it spends its money. [NYT]
Restaurants are lobbying customers to vote for them in the Zagat survey, a trend nobody likes, but which few in the business can stop or resist. [NYP]
The days of the fat chef seem to have been passed, leaving mostly whippet-slim cooks to inherit the world’s kitchens. [Waitrose via Serious Eats]
Restaurant I.D.-Theft Ring Exposed; Ted Nugent–Influenced CuisineWaiters in 40 restaurants formed a huge identity-theft ring, recording credit-card numbers and making $3 million in purchases. [Fox NY]
Donald Trump gets a sweetheart deal from the state to build Trump on the Ocean, a huge restaurant and banquet hall, on Jones Beach. [Newsday]
Chef J.J. Rachou is still feeling the sting from his Department of Health closure and can’t bring himself to reopen Brasserie LCB yet. “If you lift every can, you find a cockroach,” he says. [NYT]
Yep, 66 Going Soba; Trans Fats on the Run in Long Island66 will become Matsu Gen in “late spring” and specialize in soba noodles. [NYT]
Related: Vongerichten May Deep-Six 66, Serve Sushi and Soba Instead [Grub Street]
Landmarc, in the Time Warner Center, is wildly inexpensive relative to its location and the restaurants around it, and Steve Cuozzo is predicting boffo business. [NYP]
Related: Will Landmarc’s Downtown Cool Play Alongside Its Ritzy New Neighbors? [Grub Street]
Think you’ll get your lard fix in Long Island? Not so fast: Nassau County is planning a trans-fat ban. [Newsday]
Back of the House
The Zagat Guides Suck, Yes, But Here’s WhySmartMoney has asked a question we often hear: Can Zagat reviews really be trusted? The long and well-researched article describes a number of questionable practices by the company, mostly centering around their cozy relationship with the restaurant community and their immense power over it. Having actually co-edited a Zagat dining guide, Long Island Restaurants 2006/07 (that was the beginning and the end of our professional relationship), we feel pretty secure in saying that the Zagats don’t need any help inflating grades (if in fact that’s what they’re doing).
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Ah, to Quaff Eggnog Fireside in Long IslandFor an entire year, this thread on Mouthfuls has been tracking the best of the Upper West Side. It’s all wrapped up in this year-end post. [Mouthfuls]
A quick roundup of new West Chelsea eateries. [NYT]
Hankering for a meal by a roaring fireplace? [NYP]
Related: Have Dinner With an Old Flame
If you do wind up sitting by a fire, you’re going to want some eggnog. [NYDN]
New cookbooks that make fine gifts. [NYDN]
Related: New Cookbooks You Might Actually Open
Even in Long Island, people like to eat Christmas dinner out. [Newsday]
Back of the House
Foodies Fear Not Death; No Drinking and Riding?Number of E. coli victims doubles; Cali green onions probably to blame. [NYT]
Long Island Railroad to curb bar-car pre-parties. [NYP]
After deadly mêlée at the Greenmarket, foodies continue seeking out Fuji apples. [NYDN]