Tracey Zabar

Wall Street Journal article

URBAN GARDNER
FEBRUARY 22, 2012
A Zabar Does Cookies
By RALPH GARDNER JR.

I was somewhat concerned when Tracey Zabar told me we had to meet by 11 a.m. because she had a photo shoot with a rival newspaper at noon. I understood, of course, but simply as a matter of personal and journalistic pride I prefer to avoid getting scooped.

Tracey Zabar prepares cookies at her home on the Upper West Side. Her new book, ‘One Sweet Cookie,’ features favorite cookie recipes from 70 of the city’s most famous chefs. Bryan Derballa for The Wall Street Journal

However, I was relieved to learn that they were photographing her for an entirely different project. My interview concerned her new book, “One Sweet Cookie” (Rizzoli), for which she asked 70 of the city’s most famous chefs to supply their favorite cookie recipes; they were talking to her about an earlier volume devoted to charm bracelets.
I frankly didn’t know that much about Ms. Zabar going into our meeting at Dominique Ansel, a bakery on Spring Street owned by Daniel Boulud’s former pastry chef. (Mr. Ansel supplied the book a recipe for pecan and chocolate cookies; Mr. Boulud gave two recipes—for Trao-Mad, a buttery cookie from Brittany with peach compote; and for Bugnes De Lyon, some sort of cruller-like butter- and sugar-delivery system made by his mother and typical of Lyon, his hometown.)

I first learned about Ms. Zabar when her publicist and father-in-law, Stanley Zabar, one of the owners of the Zabar’s gourmet-food empire, slipped me a postcard with a picture of the book on one side and a recipe for Sugar Valentines on the reverse. We were attending a live broadcast of Jonathan Schwartz’s WNYC Christmas show. I was listening to Mr. Zabar with one ear and trying to take in Judy Collins, or whoever it was serenading Mr. Schwartz and his audience, with the other.

It turns out that Ms. Zabar has her hand in many pots, only a few of them containing sugar and shortening. She’s also a jewelry designer and collector, and she’s written or co-written books on subjects as varied as baby names and flower arranging. She’s not trying to find herself; apparently, she’s just passionate about lots of different things simultaneously, or at least in rapid succession. By the way, she and her husband, David Zabar, who helps run the family business, also have four sons, ranging from age 30 down to 18.
Whatever she is, she’s not without ambition. “I’m not a chef or baker by profession,” she explained as she plied me with one of Mr. Ansel’s DKA, short for Dominique’s Kouign Amann. It resembles a caramel-coated croissant and ought to be on everyone’s bucket list. However, she added: “I’m an amazing baker. I know I am.”

Ms. Zabar’s charm is that such lines usher from her mouth sounding almost modest, so infused are they with enthusiasm for whatever it is she’s discussing. “My goal,” she added, “is if you find a chocolate-chip cookie recipe, you want to make a chocolate chip better than anybody in the world and then you’re done.”

Indeed, the first recipe she got for her book was Jacques Torres’s celebrated chocolate chip. “It was such a good recipe I went to the other chefs and said, ‘Give me other recipes, not chocolate chip unless it’s your favorite.’ I potentially could have had 70 chocolate-chip cookie recipes.”

Ms. Zabar explained the genesis of “One Sweet Cookie.” “I knew so many chefs,” both through previous writing projects and because one apparently tends to cross paths with lots of them if you’re a Zabar; sort of the way you would world leaders were your name Clinton or Kissinger. “I’d wanted to ask them, ‘When you go home, what do you bake on a Sunday when you have the day off and your kids want something?’ I didn’t know if chefs made these fabulous concoctions with foam infusions of olive oil and grapefruit. I didn’t think that’s what those chefs made at home.”

Initially, Ms. Zabar said that she was worried about gaining their cooperation. After all, in the contemporary celebrity firmament famous chefs rank right up there with Lady Gaga and Nicole Kidman, actually probably slightly higher than Ms. Kidman. But the Zabar name and the opportunity to share recipes that meant something to them personally opened doors—such as the one from Mr. Boulud’s mother’s; there seem to be several maternally inspired cookies and cakes in the volume. “I didn’t think anybody would say yes,” she confided. “I thought I’d get 20 recipes. I was shocked. Three said no, but 70 said yes.”

Bryan Derballa for The Wall Street Journal  Tracey Zabar prepares cookies at her home.

And she wasn’t shy about sharing her own recipes if she thought there were holes in the compendium. For whoopie pies, for example. “There’s only one traditional whoopie pie,” stated Ms. Zabar, who grew up in New England, home of that All-American treat. “Even though people have done carrot cake and gingerbread, it’s traditionally chocolate with a marshmallowy center.”

I couldn’t agree more. A whoopie pie made of anything other than chocolate cake with an achingly sweet cream filling is a sacrilege. But what about peanut butter whoopie pies? They seem to be everywhere. “A bastardization,” Ms. Zabar pronounced.

That doesn’t mean she’s against peanut butter in general as a cooking ingredient. “I wanted there to be at least one peanut butter recipe in the book,” she said. So she hit up Marc Murphy of Landmarc at the Time Warner Center for his peanut butter sandwich with nutella filling. If the accompanying photo is any indication, it’s to drool for.
Ms. Zabar didn’t want to offend any of the souffléd egos in the book by picking her favorite recipe—among the superstar chefs included are Andre Soltner, Francois Payard, Waldy Malouf, Sarabeth Levine, Marcus Samuelsson, Mario Batali and Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Instead, she cited the special place in her heart reserved for her own mother’s recipe for Pizzelle, snowflake-shaped cookies for Italian brides, and Eli Zabar’s mother’s butter sugar cookies. “If I ever said what my favorite was the other chefs would come to kill me,” she said.

Ms. Zabar tested all the recipes herself in her own kitchen, reducing what were often restaurant metrics to those for the home baker. “I got to bake every single day for a year,” she said. “I’d eat one cookie from each batch and save a few for David and the kids and I’d take the dog for a walk and give them to anybody—doormen, homeless people. The problem is now when I walk the dog people will say, ‘Where are my cookies?’ I’m obligated.”

 

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Tracey Zabar Book Signing at Zabar’s New York November 26, 2011

Upcoming Booksigning with Tracey Zabar

To celebrate the arrivial of Tracey Zabar’s new book One Sweet Cookie: Celebrated Chefs Share Favorite Recipes and the availability of our new baking gift box available at Zabars.com,One Sweet Cookie Cookbook Gift Box, Tracey will be joining us at Zabar’s for two upcoming book signing events.

Tracey-image600Join us on Saturday, November 26th & Saturday, December 10th to meet Tracey in person and pick up an autographed copy ofOne Sweet Cookie.

Saturday, November 26th & Saturday, December 10th
from 10 AM – 12 PM at Zabar’s 2245 Broadway, NYC

Check out this really lovely interview with Tracey at Eat Your Books “Author Stories – Tracey Zabar” Susie interviews Tracey Zabar about cookbooks, kitchen favorites, and what makes a cookie tick”.

And on iVillage Lisa Cericola interviews Tracey in her article,“Celeb Chefs Share Favorite Cookie Recipes in New Book”.

One Sweet CookieMore info about One Sweet Cookie
Tracey Zabar is a self-proclaimed cookie addict! One way to satisfy her obsession is to host an old-fashioned cookie swap in her home. Zabar’s family have been honoring this tradition for more than 50 years, and she looks forward every year to gathering with her friends to share favorite recipes and cookies. It was at one of these cookie swaps where the idea for her new book ONE SWEET COOKIE: Celebrated Chefs Share Favorite Recipes was born. Zabar thought how much her fellow cookie lovers would appreciate a book that not only shares some of her and her family’s beloved recipes, but also the recipes of some of the country’s most renowned chefs and bakers – a virtual cookie swap featuring signature recipes and baker’s secrets from the biggest names in the food world.

Zabar embarked on a cookie quest and returned with Mario Batali’s Crazy Cowboy Cookies, Daniel Boulud’s Bougres de Lyon, Laurent Tourondel’s Sugar-Topped Molasses Spice Cookies, Lidia Bastianich’s Orange Cookies, François Payard’s Flourless Chocolate Cookies, and Thomas Keller’s Ice Cream Sandwiches. And, with each recipe, comes a personal (and amusing) anecdote. As Zabar’s recipe collection grew to 100 recipes from more than 60 contributors, she discovered that she had acquired an international array of sweet treats with flavors ranging from the traditional chocolate, lemon, and mint to the exotic with cardamom and pepper. Rounding out the stellar recipes is Zabar’s own baking wisdom covering everything from recommended ingredients to keep a well-stocked baker’s pantry, essential baking equipment for creating the perfect cookie, and a wealth of tips and time-saving techniques.

From bars and biscotti to meringues and macaroons, ONE SWEET COOKIE will become an instant classic and goto cookie book for a variety of indulgent occasions.

About Tracey Zabar
Trained as a pastry chef Tracey Zabar teaches private baking classes. Zabar has baked with such luminaries as author and teacher Nick Malgieri, Sarabeth Levine of Sarabeth’s Bakery, and Maury Rubin of City Bakery. This passionate baker is a jewelry designer by trade. Her collections have been sold at many stores including Barneys, Bergdorf Goodman, and Browns of London and have been exhibited in museums. Zabar was formerly a jewelry stylist for Sex and the City and The View. Her designs have been widely featured in the media, including the Today Show, Vogue, Town & Country, InStyle, New York Magazine, the New York Times, People, and W. Zabar is the author of several books including Charmed Bracelets.

Celebrate chefs share favorite recipes

recipes by dominique ansel • ludovic augendre • marc aumont • benno batali • mario batali • lidia bastianich • florian bellanger heather bertinetti • daniel boulud • terrance brennan • anna teresa callen • cesare casella • karen demasco • todd english dale colantropo fitzgerald • john fraser • william gallagher • isra gordon • richard grausman • seth greenberg dorie greenspan • alex grunert • kurt gutenbrunner • michael hartnell • maida heatter • shaun hergatt • daniel humm nicole kaplan • thomas keller • michael laiskonis • sarabeth levine • egi maccioni • sirio maccioni • nick malgieri waldy malouf • michael mccarty • jennifer mccoy • amanda moreno • stéphane motir • marc murphy • micol negrin fortunato nicotra • nancy olson • pichet ong • françois payard • angela pinkerton • lauren resler • grace rizzo kir rodriguez • maury rubin • alain sailhac • marcus samuelsson • amar santana • jen shelbo • risa smith • andré soltner alex stupak • michelle tampakis • mark tasker • jerry thornton • jacques torres • laurent tourondel • robert truitt tom valenti • jean-georges vongerichten • jonathan waxman • jason weiner • david zabar • eli zabar • tracey zabar

Here it is! One Sweet Cookie, by me, Tracey Zabar. Photos by Ellen Silverman.

One Sweet Cookie

Available October 2011 in bookstores everywhere.