F&W's 35th Anniversary: The Legends Featured

Authors: foodandwine.com{Food & Wine} Articles

Julia Child with Rolling Pins

Photo © Getty Images - Lee Lockwood

Julia Child

Contributor, 1989-2004

In 1989, Julia Child became a contributor to F&W. I hadn’t been on staff long, but I understood the considerable excitement this created. Julia was in her late seventies at that point, but one could argue she was only mid-career; she had published seven books and would go on to author or co-author 11 more. And so Julia became a member of the F&W family. She invited us into her Cambridge, Massachusetts, home for a Christmas feature in 1993. For a Valentine’s Day column in 1998, she shared the illustrated cards she and her husband, Paul, would send to friends.

While people usually associate Julia with complex French dishes, many of her recipes for F&W, such as her roast chicken, weren’t complicated at all. Julia always said that one can judge the quality of a cook by roast chicken, and that while it doesn’t require years of training, it does entail “a greed for perfection”. Her recipe for quiche Lorraine is also simple, extolling the “forbidden delights of eggs and butter and fat and calories.” Julia warned against “fear of food,” as she referred to it, insisting that some amount of fat was essential for good cooking, healthy brains and bodies and joyful eating.

Bottom line, Julia felt that we’d all be happier if we ate well, treasured our meals and cooked together. Countless times in the many years I worked with Julia, both before and after F&W, she’d turn to those of us around her in the kitchen and exclaim, “Isn’t it so wonderful to cook with friends?”—Susy Davidson

F&W's 35th Anniversary: The Legends

Photo courtesy of Marcella Hazan. Taken from Amarcord: Marcella Remembers (Gotham Books)

Marcella Hazan

Contributor, 1978-2007

Marcella Hazan is an amazing, intuitive home cook. This may sound like a simplistic description of the woman who introduced Americans to her native cuisine over 40 years ago with The Classic Italian Cookbook. But I’ve been lucky to spend time in Marcella’s kitchen and to work on her stories for F&W through the years: I know that cooking at home for her husband, Victor, and their family and friends is what has made her recipes so easy for home cooks to follow.

For Marcella and Victor, flavor always comes first. I remember trying to talk them out of dishes that I knew would be a challenge to photograph—like bean soups, or whole roasted veal shanks that resembled nuclear reactor towers—but they always won. I sometimes questioned the simplicity of a recipe, but many favorites, like Marcella’s legendary roast chicken with two lemons and tomato sauce with butter, have fewer than five ingredients.

The dishes here are among those F&W has published from one of my favorite books, Marcella Cucina (Harper Collins). The endpapers show Marcella’s kitchen notebook with her handwritten recipes, all in Italian. That’s where the magic begins.—Tina Ujlaki

F&W's 35th Anniversary: The Legends

Photo © Maura McEvoy

Jean-Georges Vongerichten

Contributor, 1990-present

It isn’t always easy getting Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s attention. As his editor at F&W from 1997 to 2006, my job required pleading for time with him, focused as he was on running his empire of 30-plus restaurants in distant parts of the planet. Once I even volunteered to babysit his daughter in exchange for an interview.

Witnessing his culinary genius firsthand taught me a few things. I learned that, no matter how wildly different the cooking appears at each of his ventures, underlying it are a few essentials. They include an enduring love of Asian ingredients, prepared with classical technique. Lightness, which comes from vegetable juices, flavored oils, vinaigrettes and quick broths. (“I don’t want the taste of boiled stock in a sauce,” he once told me.) A contrast of textures and temperatures. (“If there’s no contrast, we don’t do it.”) And a balance of heat, tang, vibrancy of fresh herbs and (optional) sweetness in every dish.

Ironically, after all those years of chasing Jean-Georges, these days I often bump into him when I stop for a ginger margarita at his Nougatine restaurant in Manhattan. I also feel like I’m hanging out with him when I make his recipes at home, where I’ve long since discovered that his simple dishes are as riveting as his intricate ones.—Jane Sigal

Video: Jean-Georges Vongerichten Cooking Demonstration
F&W's 35th Anniversary: The Legends

Photo © Antonis Achilleos

Jacques Pépin

Contributor, 1981-Present

I became an editor at F&W in 1985, almost straight out of cooking school in Paris, and Jacques Pépin’s books, La Technique and La Méthode, were my bibles. Even today, I think about Jacques each time I crack an egg (on the counter, not on the side of the bowl, to prevent bacteria or bits of shell from slipping in!) or when I bake a tart with his buttery, almost-instant pâte brisée.

Working with Jacques on his pieces for F&W is always a revelation. In our earlier days, I would meet him at the French Culinary Institute (now called the International Culinary Center) in New York City, where he is now a dean, to plan stories. We would have lunch (three courses with wine, always) at the school’s restaurant, then go back into the kitchens to meet the students. One day, the lesson was roast chicken. As we walked past the ovens, Jacques pointed out which birds were done and which needed more time—without looking. How did he know? By listening to the fat splattering in the pans. He is a food whisperer.

We’ve traveled the world with Jacques in our pages, pursuing the passions that always bring him back to the table, surrounded by family and friends. He’s taken us along on a ski weekend, a mushroom hunt in the damp woods of Connecticut, a beach vacation in Mexico, a teaching trip to Africa.

Jacques also travels to Colorado every June as a headliner for the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, often with his daughter Claudine and best friend, Jean-Claude Szurdak, in tow—this will be his 29th year. He’ll do a few demos, looking straight out at the audience while perfectly mincing three large onions in half the time it would take me to peel one. And I plan to get a seat in the front row.—Tina Ujlaki

F&W's 35th Anniversary: The Legends

Photo © Paula Wolfert

Paula Wolfert

Contributor, 1978-present

Paula Wolfert has written for F&W since 1978. This might seem unusual, since she explores ancient ways of cooking with the same passion that F&W scouts new ones. But Paula is always making discoveries. In her articles, as in her nine seminal Mediterranean cookbooks, she explains obscure ingredients and complex techniques with enthusiasm and rigor—and minimal apology.

I edited Paula for four of her 35 years with F&W, and the experience made me a better, bolder cook. Her recipes challenged my assumptions. Take kebabs, which I once shrugged off as meat on a stick. She elevates them with deceptively complex seasonings and sauces. Or cake: Her recipe for pear cake, or flaugnarde, relies on ripe pear slices rather than sugar.

My relationship with Paula involved long phone conversations (sometimes half a day) and lots of emails (once she flooded my inbox with 20 revisions of a recipe that was delicious to begin with). But in 2008, I got to travel to Marrakech with her—a dream. As she quizzed a sausage vendor about his grilling technique, I worried he’d get annoyed. But like the rest of us, he warmed immediately to this exuberant woman with her insatiable curiosity about food.—Emily Kaiser Thelin

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