David Mintz, Whose Tofutti Made Bean Curd Cool, Dies at 89

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After graduating from Lubavitcher Yeshiva High School in Crown Heights, he attended Brooklyn College, briefly sold mink stoles and ran a bungalow colony in the Catskills, where he opened a deli.

After opening his Manhattan restaurant, he said in one of many versions of the story that “a Jewish hippie” introduced him to the potential of tofu. “The Book of Tofu” (1979) by William Shurtleff and Akiko Aoyagi became his new Bible.

Mr. Mintz’s first marriage ended in divorce (“Bean curd wasn’t exciting for them,” he told the Baltimore Jewish Times in 1984). In 1984 he married Rachel Avalagon, who died that year. He is survived by their son Ethan.

Mr. Mintz often took advice from Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, venerable leader of the Hasidic Lubavitcher movement, to whom he had been introduced by his brother Isaac Gershon Mintz. According to COLLive, an Orthodox news site, David Mintz wrote $ 1,000 checks daily to Rabbi Schneerson’s Philanthropy. (He was the founder of the Chabad Community of Tenafly.)

“Whenever I met with the Rebbe, I would mention what I was doing and he would say to me, ‘You must have faith. If you believe in God, you can do miracles, ”Mintz said in a 2013 interview with Jewish Educational Media.

In the late 1970s, he was forced to close Mintz’s Buffet, his restaurant on Third Avenue, because the block was demolished for the construction of Trump Plaza. When he was offered the opportunity to move his restaurant to the Upper West Side, he turned to Rabbi Schneerson for advice. The rabbi’s secretary, Rabbi Leibel Groner, called him back, remembered Mr. Mintz and said: “Get a pencil and paper and write it down. This is very important. “