Category Archives: Obituary

Julia Child’s Editor Passes Away

Judith Jones who edited Child and other cookbook authors passes at 93.

Judith Jones, then an editor at Alfred A. Knopf, Julia Child’s publisher.

Without Judith Jones, who died a few days ago at age of 93, we might never know Julia Child — one of the country’s most influential cookbook authors. Ms. Jones had lived in Paris and knew a great deal about French cuisine and technique, when, as The New York Times wrote, in her obituary…

…a shopworn 800-page manuscript by three unknown women with no literary credentials landed on her desk at the Alfred A. Knopf publishing house in New York. The book, too long and with the uninspired title French Recipes for American Cooks, had been rejected by several other publishers.

Ms. Jones, who knew a great deal about French cooking from her years in Paris, began reading the manuscript and was so enthralled, she could not put it down. She took it home and tried some of the recipes, which proved to be magnificent. It was a lucid, approachable cookbook that took the mystery out of coq au vin and boeuf bourguignon and hundreds of dishes long thought to be too daunting for the American cook.

Her excellent radar for important books was also on during her Paris years, when she discovered The Diary of Anne Frank, and caused it to be published in English.

Click  here and here for Times reports and reminisces about her.

RIP: Chef Evan Treadwell

Devil’s Thumb Ranch Evan Treadwell dies in boating accident.

dtr-logoChef Even Treadwell, captain of the kitchens at Devil’s Thumb Ranch in Tabernash, died on September 6 following a boating accident.

The luxurious and highly honored Grand County resort posted on its Facebook page, “Chef Evan was the heart and soul of the acclaimed culinary team at Devil’s Thumb Ranch. He mentored many food and beverage professionals, and his talents will be carried forward through the skills and passion he imparted on the culinary team at the Ranch.”

Chef Evan Treadwell (Photo by Laurie Smith, courtesy of Devil's Thumb Ranch)
Chef Evan Treadwell (Photo by Laurie Smith, courtesy of Devil’s Thumb Ranch)

Chef Treadwell came to Devil’s Thumb Ranch Resort & Spa from the AAA Four Diamond Dolphin Bay Resort & Spa in California. His signature culinary style earned him an Iron Chef Award and Santé’s Culinary Award for Innovative Regional Cuisine. Earlier in his career, he worked at Viogner Restaurant with James Beard Award winner Chef Gary Danko.

When Chef Treadwell joined DTR in 2011, it was already known for  sustainably focused cuisine, as local as possible (sourcing summer produce from Morales Farm), and hoping one day to have a vertical greenhouse on the ranch). The spacious ranch also has a Wagyu beef herd to headline its beef-forward menu. He cooked at New York’s prestigious James Beard House in 2012 and again in 2013.   Chef Treadwell built on that reputation and was a charismatic presence who inspired many chefs who, on social media, quickly expressed their shock and profound sorrow at his passing.

RIP: Roger Vergé, Pioneering French Chef

RogerVergeRemember when nouvelle cuisine was, in fact, nouvelle? I do. It was in the ’60s when the American mainstream media was reporting more on the counterculture than the culinary culture.  But the buzz among chefs and gourmands (“foodie” was not yet a concept) was about the lightened up French fare introduced by a group of daring young French chefs, who steered their country’s heralded haute cuisine in a lighter and more artistic direction. I had visited France as part of a college summer trip to Europe, and while there was nothing haute about the food my friend and I ate, it was a palate-tickler. When I lived in New York soon thereafter, Biarritz and Le Mont St. Michel were on my block, and other moderately priced French restaurants were not far away. My interest never waned.

Chefs like Roger Vergé, Paul Bocuse, the Troisgros brothers and Michel Guérard were on the vanguard of this revolution, whose after-effects linger to this day. The Moulin de Mougins restaurant that Vergé established in a village near Cannes earned two Michelin stars. He was an early celebrity chef, a restaurateur, hotelier and author of several cookbooks. He called his food Cuisine du Soleil, cuisine of the sun. He died on June 5 at the age of 85. The New York Times ran a lengthy obituary.

RIP Philippine de Rothschild

Grande dame of Bordeaux wineries passes.

Baroness de Rothschild
Baroness de Rothschild

Philippine de Rothschild, revered as the grande dame of Bordeaux wine and part-owner of the legendary Chateau Mouton Rothschild vineyard, died last week at the of age 80. Baronness de Rothschild was the controlling shareholder in the family-owned Baron Philippe de Rothschild house, which produces the Mouton Cadet claret, the gold standard of Bordeaux wines. She and her three children together owned the wine houses of Chateau d’Armailhac and Chateau Clerc Milon.

She helped modernize and diversify the estate’s wine production, developing partnerships with vineyards in California and Chile. Her artist instincts kicked in and she was also responsible for choosing the artists who illustrated the labels of Chateau Mouton Rothschild collector wines,  working with such famous painters such as Pablo Picasso and Francis Bacon.

She was the only daughter of grand prix racing driver and banking heir Phillipe de Rothschild, but she made a name for herself as an actress using the stage name, Philippine Pascal, before being called up to take over the family estate after her father died in 1988. She had married twice.

RIP Chef/Restaurateur Charlie Trotter

Charlie Trotter
Charlie Trotter

Charlie Trotter, the 54-year-old superstar Chicago chef, was found unconscious in his home earlier today and was pronounced dead in a local hopsital.  In 1987, the self-taught chef opened his own restaurant that he named after himself. Charlie Trotter’s became known for creative dishes and an ever-changing menu. He was a transformational figure in American cuisine. The James Beard Foundation crowned him as the country’s Outstanding Chef in 1999, and the following year, Wine Spectator magazine called Trotter’s the best restaurant in the nation.

The Chicago Tribune wrote in its breaking-news, described Trotter as a “mercurial chef [who] was a stern taskmaster who demanded the absolute best from everyone who worked for him. He was also a man of uncommon generosity, creating the Charlie Trotter Education Foundation to provide scholarships for culinary students. He received the James Beard Foundation’s Humanitarian of the Year award in 2012.”

He will be missed in the American culinary community.

RIP: Stage Delicatessen

Iconic midtown Manhattan deli closes after 75 years

Even when I lived in New York, I never cared much for the food offered in the typical Jewish deli. Overstuffed corned beef and pastrami sandwiches, dripping with fat, served on rye bread with a phallic pickle by an intentionally surly waiter were never my thing. Long before Adam Richman’s “Man v. Food” appeared on TV, these behemoths were too much of a challenge for me, though many New Yorkers conbtinued to devour them.

I don’t know how many of these delis existed in New York, but when I lived on West 57th Street, they were part of the Manhattan scene. Visiting friends loved them, so I ate there occasionally. Now local fans and out-of-towners alike have one less deli to fequent. The New York Times has reported that the Stage Delicatessen closed after 75 years, noting “A perpetual pastrami war has, at last, ended.” The Stage and the Carnegie were near-neighbors and long-time competitors. The Stage, plagued by the threat of another massive rent increase, abruptly closed, and so the Carnegie, which owns its building, is the last mid-town deli standing. Enjoy!

RIP: Noel Cunningham

Death of Strings owner & humanitarian will leave a void in Denver’s heart

Noel Cunningham. Colorado Tourism Hall of Fame photo.

Noel Cunningham, founder and owner of Strings, a perennially popular Uptown Denver restaurant, was as well known for his generosity and charitable work as for his culinary skills and hospitality. He died suddenly on Thursday at the age of 62. Denver and the wider world will miss his hospitality in the Denver area and his philanthropy at home and abroad.

A gifted chef, he was born in Dublin, emigrated to California in the 1970s and arrived in Denver in 1986. He opened Strings on 17th Avenue, and it remains there to this day. Three years later, he established 240 Union, and two years later opened Ciao Baby, an the contemporary Italian trattoria,in Southwest Denver. Although he sold his majority share in Ciao Baby (which subsequently went bankrupt and closed), he held on to Strings and 240 Union, two bastions of contemporary American cuisine that continue to thrive.

Cunningham was deeply involved in charitable work, some of it public and much of it under the radar. He was famous for putting on a lavish Mother’s Day lunch for disadvantaged ladies, many with no or distant families. He answered the call from a number of food-related charities, including Share Our Strength/Taste of the Nation, Meals on Wheels, Quarters for Kids and Volunteers of America. Less well known were the days when he provided food to homeless men and women, usually in the afternoon afternoon the well-heeled business and professional people returned to their offices. His restaurants also supported any number of local charitable causes. In 2003, he and his wife, Tammy, founded the Cunningham Foundation to provide relief to African refugees in Ethiopia via a program called Project Mercy.

His friends were many. His admirers were many more.