Sunday, September 30, 2007

The weekend crowd embraced the Dean & DeLuca lifestyle so readily that it was sometimes more then the store's founders could handle. Their original counterman, the expert cheesemonger Steven Jenkins - who claims he was the first to apply the word "artisanal" to cheese - recalls a busy Saturday in the early years when a few staffers failed to show up, forcing a furious DeLuca to join Jenkins behind the counter. "It was total chaos, and Giorgio was slicing some preservative-free bacon, and he lopped off the tip of his thumb," Jenkins says. "He started cursing and rushed off to the clinic on Spring Street. Once he was gone, I decided to merchandise the piece of thumb, which still had fingernail on it. I put it on a little piece of marble in the display case with some rosemary and thyme and put up a sign that said 'Gaetano Crudo'"-crudo meaning "raw" in Italian, Gaetano being DeLuca's middle name. Fortunately, no one asked to taste the product, though Jenkins says a few people inquired as to "what the hell it was."

David Kamp, The United States of Arugula (207-08)

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