Where the English see Fortnum and Mason, the Americans see Dean & Deluca. The offer of high-end gourmet foods, wine and kitchenware started in 1977 when entrepreneurs Joel Dean, Giorgio Deluca and Jack Ceglic opened the flagship store in SoHo, New York. Since then the mission statement, 'To lead the marketplace in exploration, discovery and celebration of food from around the world', has been assiduously adhered to. Maple-cured Berkshire ham from the US, Siberian sturgeon caviar from Italy or whole lobe goose foie gras from France; all are available in stores, from the company's consumer and corporate gift catalogues or via the website. For Kiku Obata, president of Kiku Obata & Company, there's another reason why Dean & DeLuca stands out from the crowd: "Great coconut cake."

It's the sheer variety of fresh items to go and the busy, but friendly, atmosphere that most people remember after a visit. The area south of Manhattan's Houston Street was still a bleak warren of warehouses and small manufacturing companies when Ceglic designed the first store to evoke a turn of the century food department, with high ceiling fans spinning over a vast array of products that lined the high, white walls. Now, Dean & Deluca operates 14 retail stores and cafés throughout the US with three more stores and two cafés in Japan too. It also markets its own label products to other retailers and wholesalers throughout the world.

One visitor to the store in Manhattan notes: "The lovingly displayed selection of cheeses is one of the best in Manhattan, and the coffee is good enough that your out-of-town relatives might start pestering you for regular deliveries."

Location: New York, US

Established: 1977

No. of stores: 19

Fact: First in US to sell balsamic vinegar