A purveyor of all things gourmet, Giorgio DeLuca epitomizes passion. No matter what topic you throw at him—from opera to art, organic to convenience shopping—DeLuca is a raconteur armed with intellect and a healthy, enviable dose of snobbery. The co-founder of New York's most recognizable gourmet marketplace, Dean & DeLuca, this master of taste has made an inspiring climb to the top of the food chain.
Since his humble beginnings as owner of The Cheese Shop in run-down, rat-infested 1970s SoHo, he has dedicated his life to bringing top-quality artisan foods and housewares to ever-indulgent New Yorkers. But DeLuca is the first to admit that his passion for artistic-minded foods wasn't enough. "Passion is a raw feeling. You have to educate that, you have to edit that passion. You have to grow that passion… attach your mind to that sexual drive that's been sublimated into a love of food or whatever other things," he says fervently. That honed passion made him a pioneer of the gourmet food movement and led to global travels discovering the best cuisine the world had to offer.
Dean & DeLuca is now a $100 million business that operates stores internationally. And with a published book of well-reviewed recipes, DeLuca has the food biz down. Now a shareholder, DeLuca has time to explore and expand his entrepreneurial vision of New York. He's developed several buildings in the up-and-coming neighborhood WeVar (West of Varrick Street, nestled between TriBeCa and SoHo). The native New Yorker also owns and operates neighborhood restaurantGiorgione.
With every project the visionary takes on, DeLuca insists on simplicity. Sticking to "the bare bones of a building," DeLuca exploits the historical attributes inherent in old New York structures while giving them a welcoming, livable sense of warmth. Though speaking specifically about his design aesthetic, we wonder if DeLuca is perhaps subliminally referring to human nature: "By stripping away the superfluous," he theorizes, "you get to the core, to the essence, and that's a deeper, richer experience finally." In a city where phoniness and insincerity is intolerable to most, this connoisseur of culture couldn't be more exact. But what else would you expect from the man who defines our good taste?
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