By Ann Cooper (Food and Society Policy-3) and Lisa Holmes
Published by Rizzoli International, NY; 240 pages; $29.95
Ann Cooper is a crusader for wholesome, nutritious food-both its production and preparation. She was one of the first 50 women to be certified as an executive chef by the educational arm of the American Culinary Federation.
As the former Executive Chef and Director of Wellness and Nutrition at The Ross School in East Hampton, New York, Ann developed a school lunch curriculum centered on regional, organic, and sustainable meals–an approach to student nutrition she is working to spread across the nation. Her dream is to turn school cafeterias into culinary classrooms.
In her new book, Ann and co-author Lisa Holmes extol how food both nourishes the body and feeds the soul. In Mother’s Kitchen is part cookbook, part celebration of the role food plays in bringing families together. When researching their previous book, Bitter Harvest, the authors discovered that a mere 15 percent of American children sit down to a family meal on a regular basis. In the introduction to their new book, they write, ”As chefs, we feared the loss of our nation’s great culinary heritage, and as women with deep family and cultural ties, we couldn’t imagine a world in which the kitchen would no longer be the heart of the home.”
Interviews with more than 50 of America’s acclaimed women chefs reveal the role that mothers, aunts, and grandmothers played in inspiring these accomplished women to pursue their chosen profession. Vignettes of the chefs’ childhood memories accompany a favorite family recipe.
For example, Margaret Fox, culinary consultant and former owner of Cafe Beaujolais in Mendocino, California, inherited her mother’s massive waffle iron: ”The waffle iron, which was kept a mile back in a cupboard, was excavated for Sunday breakfasts, which would be gatherings of cousins.” Dina Altieri, a chef/instructor at the New England Culinary Institute, treasures her grandmother’s hand-written recipe for Manicotti with Marinara Sauce.
Write the authors, ”Food has always brought families together to create a sense of shared history.” Browsing through In Mother’s Kitchen will make you want to pull out your own favorite family recipe to share with loved ones.