Major Food Group is one of the most renowned, innovative, and successful companies in the history of the hospitality business.
The Company was founded in 2011, when chefs Rich Torrisi and Mario Carbone joined forces with fellow New Yorker and like-minded entrepreneur Jeff Zalaznick. Their deep friendship and trailblazing partnership took what began as an intimate, acclaimed destination in downtown Manhattan—Torrisi Italian Specialties—and turned it into a multifaceted global hospitality brand with a thrillingly modern, celebratory approach to luxury lifestyle experiences.
MFG’s landmark achievements across genres and disciplines are nearly impossible to count. They include legendary restaurants (CARBONE, Sadelle’s, THE GRILL), exclusive private venues (The Crown Club at Barclays Center), and fine hotels such as The Newbury Boston. Each of these endeavors combines MFG's incomparable execution and unwavering belief that the guest comes first, with the contributions of luminaries in the worlds of art, design, and industry—from Julian Schnabel and Ronnie Fieg to Aby Rosen and Ken Fulk, Inc.
In recent years, MFG has expanded across continents, risen to the top of the Miami and Dallas dining scenes, and introduced new concepts such as ZZ’s Club, Contessa, and VINO. In 2023, the company returned to the block where it all began, launching Torrisi Bar & Restaurant in the iconic Puck Building on Mulberry Street. The restaurant received a three-star rave from Pete Wells, in which the New York Times critic wrote, “Mr. Torrisi can take a food I know well and give it to me in a version that blew past any others.” The sentiment captures not only the spirit of Torrisi, but the very ethos that inspires everything MFG.
Mario Carbone grew up in Queens, New York, surrounded by Italian food: the northern culinary traditions preserved by his maternal grandparents and the Sicilian abbondanza that defined his father’s side of the family. He worked at local eateries in his spare time, gaining a love for the professional kitchen, and went on to earn a degree from the Culinary Institute of America. After graduation, Mario honed his skills at several formidable establishments, such as the New York City trailblazers Babbo and Lupa; La Dogana, a family-run restaurant in Tuscany; wd-50, from modern master Wylie Dufresne; and Café Boulud, Daniel Boulud’s temple to classic French cuisine.
It was at Café Boulud that Mario reconnected with an old pal from culinary school, Rich Torrisi, planting the seed for the idea the two would make real five years later, in 2009: Torrisi Italian Specialties. Built with a modest investment from friends and family, that small Little Italy restaurant turned into the talk of the town. When one enthusiastic regular, Jeff Zalaznick, became a partner, Major Food Group was born.
In the decade since, MFG has become a powerhouse with over 30 highly acclaimed restaurants around the globe, including Mario’s namesake concept, Carbone, which redefined the midcentury Italian restaurant for a new era. The partnership between the three friends is highly collaborative, but over the years Mario has developed a special interest in creative direction, curating music and wardrobe, selecting china and glassware, and overseeing graphic design.
Jeff Zalaznick is a restauranteur and entrepreneur. He was born and raised in New York City and is a graduate of Cornell University. Prior to becoming a restaurateur, Jeff worked as an investment banker for J.P. Morgan and then a manager at the Mandarin Oriental. He then struck out on his own and conceived, developed and sold two highly-influential restaurant websites.
In 2010, Jeff met his match in visionary chefs Mario Carbone and Rich Torrisi at Torrisi Italian Specialties. Together, the trio formed Major Food Group (MFG), a new breed of restaurant group seeking to operate restaurants that are respectful of the past, exciting for the present, and sustainable for the future. MFG's restaurants are conceptualized to uphold the highest level of food quality and fine dining service in a fun and inviting atmosphere for the guest.
Jeff has served as the Cornell Hotel School's Entrepreneur-in-Residence and has been listed in 30 Under 30 by Zagat and Forbes. He has also been named 40 under 40 by Crain’s and a Rising Star Restaurateur by Star Chefs. In addition, Jeff and his partners believe strongly in giving back, and have pioneered an exciting charity partnership with the Robin Hood Foundation. Jeff lives in Soho with his wife Ali and their children Poppy, Leo and Zoey.
By the age of thirteen, Rich Torrisi was cooking at restaurants near his childhood home in the Hudson Valley. He sought out opportunities in the best kitchens he could find, paving the way for an education at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. During these formative years, Rich worked under Marcus Samuelsson and Nils Noren at the modern Scandinavian restaurant Aquavit. He also gained the mentorship of Andrew Carmellini at Café Boulud, absorbing that chef’s command of French, Italian, and American culinary traditions over the course of four years.
With the help of Daniel Boulud, Rich was able to train at a host of legendary eateries in France, including Guy Savoy and Maison Troisgros. He eventually returned to New York to play a crucial role at Carmellini’s celebrated A Voce. But soon Torrisi found himself at a crossroads. He and Mario Carbone, an old friend from culinary school, decided to take a risk and open the Italian deli they had always dreamed of building together.
At Torrisi Italian Specialties on Mulberry Street—where the ambitious tasting menu served in the evenings became one of the city’s premiere culinary attractions—the two young chefs bonded with the rising entrepreneur Jeff Zalaznick. Together, they formed Major Food Group, whose renowned collection of businesses now spreads across the globe. As the company has grown, Rich has honed in on research and development, conceptualizing menus and dishes for all MFG restaurants, maintaining culinary standards across the organization, and training an expanding roster of chefs.
Carbone, Contessa, Crown Club, Dirty French, Dirty French Steakhouse, The Flamingo Grill, HaSalon Miami, Japanese Bocce Club, Parm, Principessa, Sadelle’s, THE GRILL, The Lobster Club, THE POOL, Torrisi, Vino, ZZ’s Clam Bar, ZZ’s Club
Major Food Group has partnered with Robin Hood organization to create MAJOR GOOD, a series of curated, bespoke dinner experiences. Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.