Pastry Chef, Founder, and Chairman of the Board, Sarabeth’s Kitchen (LIU Post ’64)
From the fall 2014 issue of LIU Magazine
A Global Brand Built on the Sweet Power of a Family Recipe
By Dianne Zoppa
You can thank Sarabeth Levine (B.A. ’64, H ’14) for New York City brunch culture. For 33 years she has been the heart, soul, and namesake of Sarabeth’s, the international gourmet food brand. But she rose to trendy, one-name status and worldwide success based on extraordinary vision, self-belief, boundless courage, and commitment to delivering perfection in a jar—specifically, her legendary orange-apricot marmalade.
Recipient of LIU’s Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters at the 2014 Commencement, Sarabeth has also captured some of the most coveted awards in the culinary universe, including the prestigious James Beard Pastry Chef of the Year, and authored a celebrated cookbook. But she traces her star status in the food industry back to familial ties.
More than 40 years ago, as a young, single mother supporting two daughters and holding a mixed bag of jobs from nursery school teacher to bathing suit designer, Sarabeth turned to her late mother, Doree Blume, a former model and successful fur business owner. She would complain, “Am I ever going to be anybody?” Her mother, she remembered, would come back at her with “I don’t have ‘nobodies.’ You have to find who your own ‘somebody’ is.”
All along, she was the keeper of a secret 200 year-old treasured family recipe for an orange-apricot marmalade from her French grand-merè. When Bill Levine—a contractor and businessman working on a new café in need of a signature item—came into Sarabeth’s life, her marmalade, concocted in their tiny New York City apartment kitchen, was the ticket on which this creative pair would start their journey.
“Bill and marmalade changed my life,” Sarabeth said. With him, she became ‘somebody,’ and more than 3 decades later, the self-taught culinary superstar, with her husband and business partner of 31 years, boasts an international brand with 10 stateside restaurants located in New York City, Long Island, and Key West, Fla. In Japan, there are three Sarabeth’s with another set to open in Osaka in April 2015.
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