Jerry Zezima: A second helping of a winning recipe

Jerry Zezima, Tribune News Service on

Published in Lifestyles

Even though I can barely make scrambled eggs, which become scrambled when I try to make fried eggs, I am more than just a flash in the pan.

That’s why I am celebrating the 25th anniversary of my supreme culinary triumph, a dish called Zezima’s Zesty Ziti Zinger, which not only was first runner-up in the pasta sauce division of the 1998 Newman’s Own & Good Housekeeping Recipe Contest, but earned raves from legendary actor Paul Newman, who wolfed down a bowl of the stuff after I assured him that it didn’t kill my dog.

The previous year, someone from the Newman’s Own office in Westport, Connecticut, called to ask if I would like to play the impossibly handsome movie star in a game of ping-pong at the Rainbow Room in New York City, where a luncheon for the recipe contest winners was being held.

I happily accepted, not so much because I would get a celebrity interview, but because I would get a free lunch.

In front of a crowd of about 100 people, including notables such as Regis Philbin and Kathie Lee Gifford, I stood at one end of a ping-pong table and Paul Newman stood at the other. We each held a paddle.

A woman from the Newman’s Own office, dressed in a black-and-white striped shirt, was the referee.


Newman hit my first serve into the net.

“Point, Mr. Newman,” the ref said to gales of laughter from the audience.

He hit another shot long.

“Point, Mr. Newman.”


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