James Beard Cookbook Collection
JAMES BEARD COOKBOOK COLLECTION
Recently I have been watching a series of documentary films about iconic American Chefs presented by Public Television on its series American Masters. The four films include James Beard, Julia Child, Jacques Pepin, and Alice Waters.
I have a VERY large cookbook collection and one of the first chefs that I collected was Julia Child (I have all of her books, but that’s another blog post). I watched Julia on her television cooking shows in the 1970s and ordered a pair of her books and like most of my collections that was only the beginning. I almost always try to learn as much as I can about the person or company at the center of any of my collections. As I learned about Julia, I also learned about James Beard and Jacques Pepin and also began collecting their books. I knew about Alice Waters through my daughters’ love of her cookbooks and though I don’t collect her myself, I have added to my daughter Laurie’s collection. Naturally when I read about the new series on American Masters I watched all four shows. The shows of the series are a must for every lover of cooking and cookbooks. All of the shows are wonderful to watch and really tell the story of the American Food Scene.
James Beard is considered the “Father of American Cuisine.” James grew up learning to cook from his mother and together they shopped the farmers’ markets for the freshest local, seasonal ingredients. As an adult James found his calling as a “foodie” and started touting cooking great American dishes using only fresh, seasonal ingredients. James Beard wrote his first cookbook in 1940 and hosted the first televised cooking series in 1945. Judith Jones became the editor of many of the more than twenty cookbooks written by James Beard. When Ms. Jones received the manuscript for the new book by Julia Child that became Mastering the Art of French Cooking, she forwarded a copy to James Beard for his opinion. He of course thought the book was destined to become a classic and famously said “I wish I had written it.” James and Julia became lifelong friends and each supported the work of the other.
After James Beard’s death in 1985 at the age of 81, famous chefs all over America raised money to purchase James Beard’s house in New York and today the James Beard Foundation invites famous and aspiring chefs to cook in the famous James Beard kitchen. The annual James Beard Awards are the “Oscars” of the food industry. You can learn more about James Beard on line at the James Beard Foundation website. There you can also find a complete bibliography of books by and about him.
After watching the James Beard film, I gathered all my Beard cookbooks and was surprised to discover that I had fourteen of the twenty-two that he wrote.
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