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Past, Present and Auctioning the Future

March 28th, 2012 - By Lari Robling

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My father was by far the better cook in the household and infused me with his love of good food. There were cookbooks all over the house written by the usual suspects of the day— Julia Child, of course, Bert Greene, James Beard, several Time-Life series, and Julie Dannenbaum.

Dannenbaum may have launched her career in Philadelphia, but her reach was national. She was a founding member of the Philadelphia Chapter of Les Dames d’ Escoffier International –full disclosure I am a member—and was regarded as one of the people to usher in the restaurant renaissance that gave Philadelphia dining national prominence. When Dannenbaum passed last December 15th she was remembered not only for her culinary work, but also her vast philanthropic efforts.

Above: The ladies of Les Dames d’Escoffier gather in the kitchen of the late Julie Dannenbaum to discover what can be sold to benefit their charitable organization. From left are: sale co-chair Elizabeth Schmitt, Dannenbaum’s daughter Mimi Robertson, sale co-chair Dottie Koteski and organization member Marie Stecher. (Emma Lee/for NewsWorks)

In this spirit, Dannenbaum’s family has arranged for a sale of some of the Grand Dame’s culinary treasures to be held on April 15, with the proceeds benefiting the Les Dames d’Escoffier Julie Dannenbaum Endowment, which provides scholarships to help local women achieve their culinary goals.

From my father’s cookbook collection I recall a photo of Dannenbaum in her Mediterranean-inspired kitchen, an efficient space with dark wood accented with blue and white tile.

A few weeks ago I found myself in that very kitchen, cataloguing a drawer full of pastry cutters for the sale. I thought of all the home cooks, food writers and chefs who have passed but are my culinary lineage. We all have those instructive voices we hear in our mind that keep our pastry from being overworked, save a gravy from lumps, or summon courage to try a new ingredient or dish. Who are yours? Leave us a note in the comments.


Recipe: Curried Mustard Pork Chops

This recipe is from Dannenbaum’s More Fast and Fresh. Published in 1983, it certainly exemplifies how we cooked in the eighties. Curry, even with a light hand, was unexpected. Pork, too, has changed as our obsession with “the other white meat” bred out much of the flavor. I took the liberty of substituting a small pork tenderloin and cut the recipe in half as that seemed more manageable. Six pork chops would be fine for party fare, but tenderloin leftovers made for better scraps in a salad or sandwich.

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Photo by Flicker user Yolise / CC BY-NC 2.0

About Lari Robling
Lari Robling's food career had its early beginnings as a home ec teacher for the visually impaired. Later, she decided to become a food professional and worked for caterers and restaurants. Lari landed her first job in a test kitchen for a small health food publication, Delicious! magazine. From there, she began a freelance career as a food stylist and food consultant. She is also the author of Endangered Recipes: Too Good to Be Forgotten.

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