Zakarian is the chef and owner of the New American/French restaurant Town. He's also the owner of Country on Madison Avenue.
The son of a trombonist, CIA-trained Zakarian started his career at Sirio Maccioni's Le Cirque, where he climbed the ladder to become chef de cuisine after five years. He left in 1987 to take a job at the '21' Club before moving to Maxwell's Plum, where he was fired by the restaurant's owner, the legendary restaurateur Warner LeRoy, after just two months. A year later Zakarian landed at Jeffrey Chodorow's 1980s hotspot 44, located in Ian Schrager's Royalton Hotel; the chef spent close to a decade there, overseeing the restaurant during its white-hot years as hangout for the media and fashion crowds. In 1997, Ken Aretsky installed him as chef at Patroon. Zakarian spent four years there until striking out on his own with the Midtown restaurant Town.
These days Zakarian presides over two restaurants, the complementarily-named Town and Country. Both restaurants are located inside hotels (Country is in the Carlton, Town is in Richard Born and Ira Drukier's Chambers), both have three-star ratings from the Times, and they share a common aesthetic: architect David Rockwell handled the design for both. Zakarian plans to stay within the hotel world for his next venture. He recently teamed up with hotelier Vikram Chatwal to open a restaurant/lounge in the upcoming Midtown hotel Lamb's Club, which is expected to open in 2008. David Rabin will be overseeing the bar and Thierry Despont will be handling the design.
He published Town/Country, a collection of his favorite recipes, in 2006.
Zakarian and his wife, Margaret, who is 20 years his junior, live in a townhouse in the East 90s. She does PR and marketing for his restaurants (and has done work for David Rabin's hotspots Lotus and Double Seven in the past). Event planner Preston Bailey picked them for New York's "Beautiful People" issue in 2006.
Zakarian says that when Calvin Klein was a loyal customer at 44, he routinely ordered French fries with his meal, despite the fact fries weren't on the menu. Rather than disappoint the fashion mogul, Zakarian would dispatch a busboy to pick up fries at McDonald's, spill them on a plate, and then serve them to the none-the-wiser Klein.