NOTE TO GREENWICH RETAILERS: Hey, If Ralph Lauren Likes "Matzel Toff!" ... It Must Be Good
Lower Hudson Journal news
Lower Hudson Journal news
For dessert-lover Abigail Hendel Levy, Passover has always been a bit disappointing.
That's why Levy, who grew up in Mamaroneck, was thrilled when she bit into a piece of homemade toffee-chocolate matzo at her mother's Seder a few years ago.
"It was truly out of this world,'' she says. "It was the only dessert people just gobbled right up.''
Everybody was raving about it, agrees Levy's mother, Ruth Hendel, a Tony-nominated Broadway producer who customarily invites about 30 guests for Passover. "I had cooked and baked for weeks, and what did everyone eat? Chocolate-toffee-covered matzo!"
The dessert was prepared by Phillip Guttmann, 30, a playwright and avid home cook who lives in Manhattan. Before the evening was over, Guttmann was bombarded with requests.
"People were trying to place orders like he was already in business,'' says Levy, 31, an attorney who lives in Greenwich, Conn.
After realizing there wasn't much on the market beyond simple chocolate-covered matzo, Levy and Guttmann decided to team up. Last spring, after fine-tuning Guttmann's recipe - and working with Gramercy Tavern pastry chef Nancy Olson, who offered tips on extending the matzo's shelf life - the pair unveiled the product they've dubbed Matzel Toff! (which includes an exclamation point in its name).
"We thought it was a fun twist on 'mazel tov,' which means 'good luck,' '' explains Levy.....
.....The duo started off with two versions of Matzel Toff! (milk chocolate and dark chocolate with sea salt) but found it a challenge getting the product into the hands of retailers. Guttmann says he "phone-stalked" the buyer at Dylan's Candy Bar, run by Ralph Lauren's daughter, Dylan, until she finally agreed to a meeting.
Two days later, the buyer asked for 20 pounds of Matzel Toff! for Dylan Lauren to take to her family's Seder in the Hamptons.
Levy and Guttmann gladly handed over their personal stash, which they'd just started making in a kosher commercial kitchen in Brooklyn. A few days later, they got an e-mail from Dylan herself, pronouncing the dessert a big hit.....
Guttmann still gets emotional when he thinks about it:
Ralph Lauren liked the Matzel Toff!
"It was amazing,'' says Levy. "I was on such a high.''.....
Gift boxes of Matzel Toff! (three pieces, 9.6 ounces) sell for $11.99 and $13.99 (kosher for Passover variety). A nine-bar 29-ounce family box (milk chocolate and dark chocolate only) is $26.99. For more information, and to place an order, go to http://www.matzeltoff.com/ or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
See them live: Levy and Guttmann will be on Martha Stewart's TV show on April 8, demonstrating a homemade version of Matzel Toff!
Matzel Toff! The matzo is currently sold at four Manhattan shops: Dylan's Candy Bar, Zabar's, Joe the Art of Coffee and Russ & Daughters, on the Lower East Side.
Levy and Guttmann also distribute the product to a few shops on Long Island and several in Minneapolis, Los Angeles and Miami.
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