Everyone remembers the Seinfeld Soup Nazi episodes, mostly because everyone remembers Seinfeld, period. (I think its the ultimate culmination and the finest example of the scripted sitcom, but that’s another column.)
I had heard that the episodes were based on a real person, chef Al Yeganeh. I never really thought of it until I was shopping one day and saw this on the shelf.
What was promising is that it wasn’t in a can. There is no such thing as a premium soup in a can, and these guys understood that. We bought a couple soups on a lark.
They were fantastic. Unspeakable. I have no idea what this guy’s place must have been like, because the soup at his kitchen would be better, but this was amazing grocery store soup. It somehow makes original spins on soups you’ve had a hundred times. The man made an interesting chicken noodle, which is the Gerald Ford of soups. So the soup was a good product. But was he really like the guy on the show?
The site is worth poking around (http://originalsoupman.com). It looks great, has some great stuff on there, and you can see that some celebrities got the soup and then got behind the company. There’s also an incredible amount of tiptoeing. Apparently, Yeganeh hates the show and references to it, although he seems to be a complex and intelligent man, and chefs tend to be high-strung, as their work demands a great deal of time and labor.
And then I saw the videos.
This is basically like if the Iron Sheik made soup. This is a man whose business will only succeed if no one ever talks to him. The company has taken great pains to have everyone but him deal with the media. Not only did Seinfeld seem to nail the character, he toned it down. One day, I will find somebody that works for this company, get them loaded, and then have them tell me war stories.
Mostly importantly, it is the best soup I’ve ever had from a store. And apparently, soup with a story.