Dean & DeLuca is the winner of the Readers' Choice Award for Best Online Gourmet Food.
Though it's now one of America's finest online grocers -- offering a wide array of food, wine and even kitchenware --- the New York-based company got its start well before the information superhighway received its first coat of pavement.
In the 1970's, Joel Dean and Giorgio DeLuca traipsed around the world in search of artisan-produced foods that pleased their customers as well as themselves. They wanted products that fired their imaginations, challenged their tastes and turned dinner into a creative exercise.
When the partners opened the original Dean & DeLuca in Soho in September 1977, the neighborhood wasn't the hopelessly chic shopping enclave it is today; rather, it was an authentically gritty corner of the Big Apple. As such, founding partner, Jack Ceglic, designed the first store to evoke a turn-of-the-century food department. Beneath the whir of ceiling fans, high shelves brimmed with rare artisan foodstuffs from flavored salts to cured meats.
Joel and Giorgio continued to expand their operation, adding another New York shop with four times the space of the original in 1988. Boutiques throughout the city followed, as did locations in Charlotte, Kansas City and Washington, D.C. Demand for the grocer's goods even spawned a store in Tokyo.
Dean & DeLuca's wide array of gourmet offerings range from black truffle barbecue sauce, cilantro lime butter and tapas to Asian inspired delicacies such as green tea truffles, purple sweet potato vinegar and organic sushi rice. It also has an impressive selection of meats, seafood, pates, ready-to-serve appetizers, artisanal cheeses and sweets. In search of a Mediterranean sea salt? How about a Himalayan salt harvested from the beds of ancient seas? Look no further than Dean & DeLuca. The company has also launched a new wine division with knowledgeable staff who can recommend the best food and wine pairings for any event.
Today, website makes the grocer's trademark meats, fish, cheeses, herbs and spices available to those who aren't lucky enough to have a store nearby. Dean & DeLuca also markets its private label products to other retailers and wholesalers throughout the world.