Spice House owner, Patty Erd, helps introduce the new cookbook for Les Dames d'Escoffier.

Last night I had the great honor of sitting on a panel of women who contributed to a newly released cookbook titled  Cooking with Les Dames d?Escoffier – At Home with the Women Who Shape the Way We Eat and Drink. This was our Chicago launch of the book, which includes recipes from members of our international organization including Julia Child, Alice Waters, Dorie Greenspan, Marcella Hazan, Anne Willan, Lidia Bastianich, M.F.K. Fisher, Gale Gand, to name a few. I have a bit of spice advice in the book and consider it a great honor to be included among these great ladies.

To backtrack, I belong to an organization called Les Dames d’Escoffier, which is made up of women in the culinary profession who, over 35 years,  have contributed to the way we eat and drink. Last year our Chicago chapter produced a wonderful book called Chicago Cooks. This year our International members worked long and hard to put together a new book called Cooking with Les Dames d?Escoffier – At Home with the Women Who Shape the Way We Eat and Drink. Our book kick-off event was organized by program chair Jill Van Cleave and held at Dame Ina Pinkney?s restaurant Ina’s . Before dinner we had a panel discussion led by Dame Joan Reardon, author of M. F. K. Fisher among the Pots and Pans:Celebrating Her Kitchens; Poet of the Appetites:The Lives and Loves of M.F.K. Fisher; M.F.K. Fisher, Julia Child, Alice Waters: Celebrating the Pleasures of the Table; Oysters: A Culinary Celebration, among others. Panel members were Dames Toria Emas, former LDEI president, Barbara Glunz of The House of Glunz , Nancy Brussat, of Convito Cafe and Market, Gale Gand, accolades too numerous to list here! and myself. We were to discuss how we entertain at home, some kitchen advice, favorite gadgets and what we would choose to eat when dining alone. The panel went well, I am very proud to be associated with these wonderful women. The best part was the sense of humor we shared, we all made our audience and each other laugh.Thanksgiving 2008 051

I have to say, in spite of the high esteem in which I hold my colleagues, the star of the evening was Ina?s fried chicken. She is famous for this, but this was my first experience. ( It will not be my last.) It was AWESOME! If you are a fried chicken fan, you have to visit Ina’s. She even does a gluten free fried chicken night, once a month, if I recall, and the place is packed. Even though we are really a group of very hard working women, sometimes our image comes across as a group of society ladies. That image would be erased if you could have seen that room of beautifully dressed women eating gigantic plates of fried chicken!

Here our most polished and prolific writer, Joan Reardon, gets ready to dig in. I always have fun with these terrific ladies. Thank you for letting me be a part of this special evening.