The world has lost one of the champion Chowhounds of all time - Larry "Fats" Goldberg. He passed away on Monday in Kansas City after having recently turned 69. He'd suffered from Alzheimer's for several years.
Larry Fats, a high school chum of Calvin Trillin, was immortalized in some of Trillin's most marvelous essays and stories.
Having weighed well over 300 pounds at one time, Larry Fats developed his own weight-loss and control program which he called "Controlled Cheating" - and "no, it's NOT a marriage manual" (as he always said!). He lost half a person and kept off the weight for the majority of his adult life. Despite a controlled program, he allowed himself cheat days twice a week and for two weeks straight every year. And boy oh boy, could that man eat! I had the dubious honor of frequently being with him on a cheat day and he ate and ate and ate! But the next day it was back to the walking, stationery bike, lots of water, fresh fruit and a regime he developed for himself.
Larry Fats, a Kansas City native and a journalism graduate from the University of Missouri, lived for a time in Chicago and then ventured to New York where he earned his reputation as a bon vivant and all-around-good guy.
He also opened three pizzerias in NYC which he operated in the 1970s and 1980s before returning to Kansas City. His Goldberg's Pizzerias were often recognized as the "Best Pizza in NYC" and Larry Fats was mighty proud of that fact.
Larry Fats favored dough, fat and sugar as his three food groups. He loved homecooked cheap restaurant food and was well known throughout Kansas City for his frequent forays to Lamar's Donuts, The Corner (for massive breakfasts), Murray's Ice Cream, d'Bronx Pizzeria & Deli, Fric & Frac and other loveable joints. He wasn't into "uppity" food and despised cilantro.
For a short time in the mid-1990s, Larry Fats owned Goldberg's Pizzeria in suburban Kansas City. Many of us thought that had he been able to locate in his beloved Midtown, it would have lasted much longer. He was a Midtownie at heart and as he said, "Going to the suburbs gives me nosebleeds."
He was also well known as the host/bon vivant at three Kansas City restaurants -- Cafe Lulu (a funky joint well suited to his hightop sneakers with a neon orange shoelace in one and a neon green shoelace in the other), Houston's and Ruth's Chris' Steakhouse. At one time he was also a regular weekly restaurant reviewer for a commercial radio station and appeared twice a month on a panel of foodies on the local Public Radio affiliate.
I can't help but think that Larry Fats is in the great beyond right this minute slinging a pizza and wolfing down a Lamar's glazed donut. Here's to you, Pal!