Culinary Classics Awards

  • culinary classics logo awardsThese awards honor works that have significantly altered the way we think about food and contributed to the field of culinary literature. Any IACP member may nominate a culinary-related work for the Culinary Classics Book Awards. Nominated books must have been published at least five years ago, but no earlier than 1945. Additionally, they must have both (1) significantly altered the way we think about food and (2) contributed in a meaningful way to the field of culinary literature. Books that are dedicated to any food-related subject; document or interpret a cuisine, culinary tradition, or history; or convey an important culinary sensibility or vision are eligible. No entry fee is required.

2019 Award Winners

Oxford Companion to Food, by Alan Davidson (1999). As the single most important food history reference work deserving a space on the shelves of anyone interested in food, Alan Davidson’s Oxford Companion to Food has withstood the test of time and has even been revised in subsequent editions by various friends mostly associated with the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery which Davidson co-founded. The work is not only startlingly comprehensive but brilliantly witty and opinionated and worthwhile for either a brief consultation or an entire afternoon’s leisurely reading. Tribute by Ken Albala

The I Hate to Cook Book, by Peg Bracken (1960).  A best-seller when it appeared in 1960, with 3 million copies sold, The I Hate to Cook Book was loved for its easy yet tasty recipes and for Peg Bracken’s delicious wit that amuses even today.  Like Erma Bombeck, another humorist of her era, Bracken attacked the drudgery of women’s traditional work with fun instead of the anger that came later with the Women’s Liberation Movement.  When the 50th anniversary edition was published in 2010, Peg  Bracken’s daughter affirmed that her mother was in fact a wonderful cook, a suspicion harbored by many who enjoyed the book as much for its recipes and tips as for its bright humor. Tribute by Barbara Haber

Honey From a Weed  by Patience Gray (1986). The impact of “Honey From a Weed” can be better measured not by the relatively few copies it sold, but from the influential people who bought those copies and how it changed their approach to cooking. “Honey From a Weed” is a highly personal cookbook that celebrates a way of cooking that could be called pre-modern— using basic techniques and often found or foraged ingredients to create food that is not only delicious but is intimately tied to a specific season and place. Tribute by Russ Parsons

The Breath of a Wok  by Grace Young & Alan Richardson (2004). In Chinese cooking, wok hay is defined as “that prized, elusive seared taste that comes only from stir-frying in a wok.” As a girl, Grace Young imagined wok hay as the “fiery breath of a wok, imparting a special life force or essence from the wok to the food.” In this book, she portrays the wok as a way of life, articulating its lessons by sharing techniques, traditions, recipes and kitchen stories. With award-winning photographer Alan Richardson, Grace travels through the U.S., Hong Kong and Mainland China, cooking and talking with professional chefs, home cooks and cooking teachers to discover the myriad secrets of the wok – and life itself. Tribute by Laura Martin Bacon

Vibration Cooking: or The Travel Notes of a Geechee Girl   by Vertamae Smart-Grosvenor (1970). “I cook by vibration,” wrote Vertamae Smart-Grosvenor, who described herself as a ‘cultural anthropologist’ in the introduction to this 1970 groundbreaking book. Born in South Carolina, this actress, musician, and host for National Public Radio (NPR) and Public Broadcasting (PBS), passed away in 2016. She moved to Philadelphia with her family when she was 10 years old, bringing along their treasured Gullah recipes. At 19 she moved alone to Paris, which she later described in the book as a time to live and cook the Bohemian life. Along with her recipes, Smart-Grosvenor used her trademark satirical humor to seasonVibration Cooking with strong feelings about the ways mainstream American media ignored African-American contributions. In a new introduction for the 1986 second edition, she underscored her passion: “I choose to write about ‘Afro-American’ cookery because I’m ‘black’ and know the wonderful, fascinating culinary history there is. And because the Afro-American cook has been so under-appreciated.” Tribute by Donna Pierce

PAST WINNERS

  • Bayless, Rick: Authentic Mexican
  • Beard, James: American Cookery
  • Beranbaum, Rose Levy: The Cake Bible
  • Betty Crocker’s Cookbook 1950
  • Chase, Leah: Dooky Chase Cookbook
  • Child, Julia, Simone Beck, and Louisette Bertholle: Mastering the Art of French Cooking 2 vols.
  • Claiborne, Craig: The New York Times Cookbook
  • Corriher, Shirley: CookWise
  • Darden, Carole and Norma Jean: Spoonbread & Strawberry Wine
  • David, Elizabeth: A Book of Mediterranean Food
  • deGroot, Roy Andries: Auberge of the Flowering Hearth
  • DeKnight, Freda: The Ebony Cookbook
  • Egerton, John: Southern Food
  • Field, Carol: The Italian Baker
  • Fisher, M.F.K.: The Art of Eating
  • Fussell, Betty: The Story of Corn
  • Greene, Bert: Greene on Greens
  • Grigson, Jane: Charcuterie and French Pork Cookery
  • Hazan, Marcella: The Classic Italian Cook Book
  • Heatter, Maida: Book of Great Cookies
  • Jaffrey, Madhur: Invitation to Indian Cookery
  • Kamman, Madeleine: The Making of a Cook
  • Kasper, Lynn Rosetto: The Splendid Table
  • Katzen, Mollie: The Moosewood Cookbook
  • Kennedy, Diana: The Art of Mexican Cooking
  • Kuo, Irene: Key to Chinese Cooking
  • Lewis, Edna: Taste of Country Cooking
  • Madison, Deborah: Greens Cookbook
  • McGee, Harold: On Food & Cooking
  • Nathan, Joan: Jewish Cooking in America
  • Olney, Richard: Simple French Food
  • Paddleford, Clementine: How America Eats
  • Pepin, Jacques: La Technique
  • Prudhomme, Paul: Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana Kitchen
  • Roden, Claudia: A Book of Middle Eastern Food
  • Rombauer, Irma and Marion: Joy of Cooking 1975 ed.
  • Rosso, Julie and Sheila Lukins: The Silver Palate Cookbook
  • Time-Life Editors: Foods of the World Series
  • Wells, Patricia: Bistro Cooking
  • Wolfert, Paula: Couscous and Other Good Food from Morocco

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