Icons of American Cooking

by Victor W. Geraci and Elizabeth S. Demers, Editors


Today, most Americans eat for more than simply nourishment—they eat to entertain their taste buds and experience new flavors and textures. And yes, some of us even eat to be fashionable. Credit is due to a select group of groundbreaking cooks and food lovers for greatly expanding the American palate over the course of the last 60 years.

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Cover image for Icons of American Cooking

March 2011


Pages 314
Volumes 1
Size 7x10
Topics Popular Culture/Icons and Celebrities

Discover how these contemporary food icons changed the way Americans eat through the fascinating biographical profiles in this book.

Before 1946 and the advent of the first television cooking show, James Beard's I Love to Eat, not many Americans were familiar with the finer aspects of French cuisine. Today, food in the United States has experienced multiple revolutions, having received—and embraced—influences from not only Europe, but cultures ranging from the Far East to Latin America. This expansion of America's appreciation for food is largely the result of a number of well-known food enthusiasts who forever changed how we eat.

Icons of American Cooking examines the giants of American food, cooking, and cuisine through 24 biographical profiles of contemporary figures, covering all regions, cooking styles, and ethnic origins. This book fills a gap by providing behind-the-scenes insights into the biggest names in American food, past and present.


  • Provides 24 intriguing, biographical entries detailing the lives of some of America's greatest food and cooking pioneers and institutions
  • Includes contributions from 18 distinguished scholars, librarians, and journalists
  • Offers key insight into childhood and family, education, career trajectory and triumphs, and legacy
  • Numerous sidebars offer intriguing quotations, sample menus, and excerpts from writings
  • Suggestions for further reading follow each profile


  • Sheds light upon the lives and creative genius of some of the best and most famous chefs, cooks, and food writers
  • Reveals an exciting American food revolution in 24 biographies
  • Includes coverage of food celebrities such as Julia Child and Anthony Bourdain, deeply respected food writers such as M.F.K. Fisher, as well as the famed Culinary Institute of America and Betty Crocker
  • Ideal for the collections of public, secondary, university, and professional libraries as well as for general readers
Author Info

Victor W. Geraci, PhD, is the food and wine historian and associate director of the University of California Berkeley's Regional Oral History Office (ROHO). His published works include Salud!: The Rise of Santa Barbara's Wine Industry and Aged In Oak: The Story of the Santa Barbara County Wine Industry..

Elizabeth S. Demers, PhD, is senior editor at Potomac Books, Dulles, VA. She was previously senior editor at Greenwood Publishing Group.



"This basic volume on some of the more influential entities in the food business today is accessible for high school students and undergraduates; a good option for large public libraries. The clear strength of the work is in the additional readings and the coverage of lesser-known topics such as Crocker, the CIA, and Chuck Williams of Williams-Sonoma."—Library Journal

"Icons of American Cooking is a nice introduction to the culinary scene in the U.S. today. It is a good resource for student reports and for those interested in cooking, and could be added to circulating collections as well as reference collections in public and undergraduate libraries."—Booklist

"Editors Geraci and Demers feature 23 truly iconic individuals of American cooking in this volume, along with an entry on the Culinary Institute of America. Well-known figures such as Julia Child, Betty Crocker, and Tim and Nina Zagat are included. . . . Interesting stories and quotations are interspersed throughout. Summing Up: Recommended."—Choice

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