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About the book

FOOD AND THE CITY is a fascinating oral history from an unforgettable gallery of New Yorkers who embody the city's culinary heart and soul. It is full of delicious insights, inspiring stories, and singular anecdotes that together paint a vibrant picture of metropolitan food culture.  Here,

  • Dominique Ansel explains what great good fortune led him to make the first Cronut
  • Ghaya Oliveira, who came to New York as a young Tunisian stockbroker, recounts her hardscrabble yet swift trajectory from dishwasher to executive pastry chef at Daniel
  • Restaurateur Eddie Schoenfeld describes his journey from Nice Jewish Boy from Brooklyn to New York's Indisputable Chinese Food Maven
  • Old schoolers like David Fox, third generation owner of Fox's U-bet syrup, and the outspoken Upper West Side butcher “Schatzie” -  to new kids on the block like Patrick Collins, sous chef at The Dutch, and Brooklyn artisan Lauren Clark of Sucre Mort Pralines share their exhilarating, moving and motivating stories

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Inside the book...

Even at that early age, I loved the whole feel of a nice restaurant. The ones I went to with my parents were limited. They would never even think of going to a French restaurant because, one, they wouldn’t spend the money; two, they wouldn’t get dressed up like people did in those places; and three, I think they were intimidated. My folks were middle-class, intellectual Jews, so going out to dinner meant we did what any normal Jews did on Sunday night—we went to a local Chinese restaurant for spare ribs and shrimp with lobster sauce.
— Ed Schoenfeld, Red Farm
Photos: Evan Sung, Liz Barclay -

Photos: Evan Sung, Liz Barclay -

In 1994, I decided to move out to Los Angeles. I left New York with a suitcase, a tennis racquet, and a plan to write TV sitcoms. I decided that once I hit L.A., I would be finished with my cooking career. And I was. Until out of the blue, one day I got a call from Sigourney Weaver wanting to know if I was available to work for her as a private chef. ‘Wait a minute,’ I said, ‘don’t you want to taste my food?’ ‘Oh, yeah,’ she said, ‘sure.’
— Lulu Powers, Bicoastal Entertainologist
Today I’m living in a world of absolute luxury. I sell luxury, and I sell fantasy and it’s wonderful to do that, but I’m afraid that that has become so important to so many people that reality doesn’t exist for them anymore. Sometimes values surrounding a celebration can get so blown out of proportion, especially as the date nears, that I have to remind myself and often others: We’re not talking about world peace, here. We’re talking about a piece of cake.
— Sylvia Weinstock, Sylvia Weinstock Cakes
sylvia Weinstock best pic.jpg
Photo: E. Kheraj –

Photo: E. Kheraj –

The manager took me straight to the pastry chef, who blinked at my résumé—I think he threw it in the garbage—and sent me downstairs to change. From there, he took me to the basement kitchen to ‘pipe macarons.’ What is a macaron? I’m thinking. What are these green things?
— Ghaya Oliveiria, Executive Pastry Chef, Daniel


Ina Yalof’s Food and the City presents a uniquely wide view of the food landscape in New York by sharing the engaging voices and compelling stories of the vibrant people living and working in this world every day. By honing these tales, Yalof gives lucky readers an insider’s perspective on the diverse food world in New York City.
— Eric Ripert, Executive Chef, Le Bernardin
Each story in this book inspires me with the turn of the page. These are stories of passion, motivation, hardship and resilience. Ina Yalof has captured the ingredients for success in the NYC restaurant scene while weaving tales that showcase the unwavering spirit of our fellow New Yorkers.
— Marcus Samuelsson, James Beard-award winning chef and New York Times-bestselling author of Marcus off Duty and Yes, Chef!
Ina Yalof’s book captures well once unknown tales of New York City’s hard working chefs. I am proud that she featured our pastry Chef at restaurant Daniel, Chef Ghaya, and her unique story. She’s been through a moving journey in her personal and professional life and her overall loyalty and dedication will inspire all.
— Daniel Boulud, Chef/Owner, The Dinex Group
New Yorkers are so obsessed with eating, they often forget who’s getting the food to them. Here are their stories and their struggles, with appearances by hurricanes, ghettos, poverty, 9/11, Rikers Island, real wars and hot dog wars. You’ll be charmed and you’ll be moved.
— Alan Richman, sixteen-time winner of the James Beard Foundation Journalism Award
A wonderful book in which amazing cooks, chefs, and artisans tell their unique stories. I was particularly taken with the words of the immigrants, who are rarely celebrated. Their lives are not without struggles, crazy long hours and daily frustrations, yet the spirit of New York cuisine is in all of them.
— Jonathan Waxman, chef/owner Barbuto and Jams, NYC and author of Italian, My Way
[see full review under Press & Media]...Collectively, Yalof’s assortment of cuisines and memories paints a multiculturally diverse food tapestry, and each individually embodies a passion for food artistry that crosses generations, cultures, nationalities, and all manner of palates. A wide-ranging, toothsome smorgasbord of Gotham’s good eats and the tireless men and women behind each plate.
— Kirkus Review
[see full review under Press & Media]...VERDICT A noteworthy collection of intriguing stories that illustrate the perseverance, hard work, and passion for food that one must have to succeed. Fans of food memoirs and essays are sure to enjoy.
— Melissa Stoeger, Deerfield P.L., IL, LIBRARY JOURNAL