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Women in the Culinary Professions: Women in the Archives

Selected resources on female chefs, restaurateurs, and more.

Women in the Archives


Please enjoy exploring these selections that highlight women and food from several collections in our Archives and Special Collections. Read about two new exhibits on display in the library. Scroll down this page to see highlights from the CIA Menu Collection, the pamphlet collection, the college archives, and more!

For more information, please visit the Archives website at

Celebrating Women Chefs: Menus from the CIA Menu Collection

Celebrating Women Chefs 

This information is from an Archives display in 2016.  Although not on display at this time, all of these menus are available in the Archives.

Historical menus from the restaurants of women chefs are on display in the library through Women's History Month. Menus were selected from the CIA Menu Collection. The following chefs represent the diversity of women in the field--from Rome to London to Berkeley, from Italian to Chinese to farm-to-table cuisine.

Eugénie Brazier aka “La Mère Brazier” (Chez La Mere Brazier, Lyon, France)  Brazier was the first woman to earn three Michelin stars in France in 1933.  She was also known for turning Lyon into France's capital of gastronomy.  She went on to achieve six Michelin stars for her other restaurants on Rue Royale and in the Alpine foothills at Col de la Luère.  Brazier trained several top chefs, including Paul Bocuse.

Joyce Chen (Joyce Chen Restaurant, Cambridge, MA)  Joyce Chen was credited with popularizing northern-style Chinese cuisine in the United States. Chen invented the flat bottom wok with a handle and developed the first line of bottled Chinese stir fry sauces for the US market.

Lydia Egloff (La Bonne Auberge, Stiring-Wendel, France)  After training as an apprentice, Egloff became the first woman master chef of France. She opened the one Michelin star restaurant La Bonne Auberge with her sister, Isabelle Egloff.

Rose Gray & Ruth Rogers (River Café, London, England) Childhood friends Gray and Rogers were reunited later in life when both were looking for a passion to pursue. They opened the River Café in 1987. This restaurant brought Gray’s Italian influenced cuisine to Britain and trained a number of successful chefs, including Jamie Oliver, April Bloomfield (Spotted Pig), and many more. The duo earned a Michelin star in 1997.

Madeleine Kamman (Chez La Mere Madeleine and Modern Gourmet, Boston, MA)  Kamman attended the Cordon Bleu in Paris before marrying an American and moving to Philadelphia in 1962. In 1967 she began teaching French cooking classes from her home. In 1968 she moved to Boston and opened both her restaurant, Chez La Mere Madeleine, and her cooking school/restaurant, Modern Gourmet, which was staffed by students.

Zarela Martinez (Zarela, New York City)  Martinez learned cooking as a child from her mother Aida Gabilondo. She was taken under Chef Paul Prudhomme’s wing after he discovered her in a New Orleans cooking class in 1979. In 1982 Craig Claiborne named her a “Master Mexican Chef” and launched her career in New York City.She opened her restaurant Zarela in 1987 and after a twenty-four year run it closed in 2011.

Agata Parisella (Agata e Romeo, Rome, Italy)  Agata grew up in a family involved in the restaurant industry and that is where she learned about Italian cuisine and techniques. After meeting her husband Romeo, who grew up on a winery, they opened Agata e Romeo, which has earned one Michelin star.

Nadia Santini (Dal Pescatore, Canneto sull'Oglio, Italy) Dal Pescatore was originally opened by Santini's husband's great grandparents in the 1910s. She took over running the restaurant with her husband in 1974.In 1996, the restaurant was awarded three Michelin stars, with Santini becoming the first female chef in Italy to earn this level of honor.

Susan Spicer (Bayona, New Orleans, LA) Spicer started her cooking career under the teachings of Chef Daniel Bonnot at the Louis XVI Restaurant in 1970. After opening her restaurant Bayona in 1990, she wrote her cookbook, Crescent City Cooking: Unforgettable Recipes from Susan Spicer’s New Orleans. Spicer was inducted into the Culinary Hall of Fame in December 2012.

Elizabeth Terry (Elizabeth on 37th, Savannah, GA)  Terry was inspired to open her restaurant while cooking simple food for her family. Her restaurant became known for her fresh and innovative dishes in the Southern tradition. Terry has won many awards for her career and was inducted into the Fine Dining Hall of Fame in 1993.

Alice Waters (Chez Panisse, Berkeley, CA)  Waters has been named as one of the most influential figures in food in the past fifty years, and has been called the mother of American food. She is currently one of the biggest supporters of the organic food movement, and has been a promoter of organics for over forty years. Waters believes that eating organic foods free from herbicides and pesticides, is vital for both taste and the health of the environment and local communities.

Menus :: Women and Restaurants

Livingstone Salon, 1930

Livingstone Salon menuBelle Livingstone, born Isabel Graham in Kansas City, was a speakeasy owner in New York City during Prohibition.  Speakeasies were routinely raided by federal agents. Riots would often break up between agents and customers.  Livingstone avoided having wooden chairs and tables in her nightclub as they could easily become weapons.  According to the Reading Eagle (July 31, 1949), "Miss Livingstone used reclining divans, much like triple size mattresses, and straw mats on the floor which to serve drinks. These were very comfortable but handicapped the torpedo boys when they started a free-for-all gang war, because being slapped by a mattress or a straw mat may hurt one's feelings, but does little physical injury. People patronizing Miss Livingstone's salon where they were assured the worst blow they could get would be from some bad gin.... In those prohibition days, all a club needed was a mistress of ceremonies like a loud orchestra."


The Cortile, 1937

The Cortile menuAlice Foote MacDougall (1867-1945) was a fascinating woman - and a businesswoman way ahead of her time.  She opened her first coffee shop in New York City in 1919 and less than ten years later she had a chain of restaurants across the city.  In her autobiography she wrote, "Really to succeed, we must give; of our souls to the soulless, of our love to the lonely, of our intelligence to the dull. Business is quite as much a process of giving as it is of getting."

This menu for The Cortile on West 44th Street from 1937 is one of our favorites, serving serious coffee and breakfast with a side of fun: “With each meal or purchase of pottery of 50c or more Miss Rosa Rosella will interpret your Character and Predict your Future. Her Gratuities are Voluntary.”


Harvey Girls

Fred Harvey menuIt's impossible to discuss women in the restaurant industry without mentioning the Harvey Girls. A chain of eating houses along the railroads in the western United States was developed by Fred Harvey in the late nineteenth century. Harvey's high standards and expectations helped elevate dining in the West and encouraged tourism.  Harvey advertised in newspapers around the country for single, educated women to work as waitresses in his restaurants--who became known as The Harvey Girls. They were expected to be clean-cut and well-mannered and in exchange many were able to live independently and travel to new parts of the country (or even marry). History has sometimes credited them with "civilizing" the West. A musical film about the Harvey Girls starring Judy Garland opened in 1946, a still from which appears on the cover of this menu for Fred Harvey dining car service on the Santa Fe railroad.


La Pyramide, 1950s

Beside every great man there is often a great woman, even in the restaurant industry. After the famous chef and "father of modern French cuisine" Fernand Point passed away in 1955, his wife, Marie-Louise Point, became owner of La Pyramide in Vienne, France, a role she kept until her death in 1986.  The restaurant not only kept Point's name and his tradition, but also the three-Michelin stars he had earned.

In The Great Chefs of France (Blake and Crewe 1978), Madame Point appears as the first entry. After they married in 1930, Madame Point redecorated and brought style and elegance to the restaurant. "It was Point's marriage which finally liberated the singular originality which was to change so much in haute cuisine." (34) She ran the business side of the restaurant, wrote the menus, selected the wines, managed the staff, and served as mistress of the house for over fifty years. The Points trained many of the twentieth century's greatest chefs, including Paul Bocuse, Alain Chapel, and Pierre Troisgros.


Men's Bar at The Biltmore, 1960

Men's Bar menuIn 1960, at the time of this menu, the Men’s Bar in The Biltmore Hotel in New York City was one of many male-only establishments where the city’s most notable figures socialized.  It’s ironic that in 1968 a national board meeting for the National Organization for Women (NOW) was held at the Biltmore.  Betty Friedan attended that meeting and she wrote about this experience in her book, It Changed My Life: “We went to the Biltmore Bar to calm our nerves. ‘Can’t serve you ladies,’ the bartender said cheerily, though in fact he wasn’t busy–the bar was virtually empty. But of course it was an ancient fixture at the Biltmore:  'The Men’s Bar and Grill.’ No women allowed. We tried to kid him out of that old-fashioned 'for men only’ nonsense; we wanted a drink. He stopped being so cheery."  Finally, as a result of the feminist movement and activists like Friedan (and an order for the city’s Human Rights commission!) the bar was forced to open to women and was thereafter called the Biltmore Bar.


Nathalie's, 1977

Nathalie's menuNathalie Moore opened her restaurant, Nathalie's, on Seventh Avenue in Harlem in the 1970s after working in the restaurant industry for many years.  On the back of this menu, Moore tells her story. She begins, "Welcome to my Dream -  Food and cooking have always been my first love, but I never thought I'd be owning my own restaurant, cooking my own favorite foods." She describes her experience in kitchens from Ohio to Connecticut to New York, including learning under Albert Stockli at Restaurant Associates.  She then concludes, "I suppose I've always dreamed of this—my very own restaurant—serving good old fashioned Southern Cookin' to people who appreciate it. Nathalie's is the culmination of a dream that started long ago and far away. It couldn't have happened without a lot of dreaming, a lot of faith, and a whole lot of work."

Women Who Cook: A Selection from the Archives

Women Who Cook: A Selection from the Archives

Using resources from our Archives and Special Collections, the display in the Archives Reading Room explores the historical place of women in the kitchen.  Themes include early American cookbook authors, turn-of-the-century cooking schools, women and food during wartime, and mid-twentieth century advertising pamphlets targeted to women.

The exhibit begins with the first cookbook written by an American for Americans.  Amelia Simmons published American Cookery in 1796.  Unlike the English or German cookbooks that housewives were using, the recipes in American Cookery used ingredients unique to the New World, including corn (and cornmeal), cranberries, turkey, squash, and potatoes.  Little is known about the author.

Countless cookbooks were written by American women from the earliest days to the present. On display from the Rare Book Collection are volumes by Anna Barrows, Isabella Beeton, Alice Bradley, Helen Bullock, Matilda Lees Dods, Mrs. Ericsson Hammond, Marion Harland, Elizabeth O. Hiller, Mrs. Simon Kander, Minnie Palmer, Sarah Rorer, and Lily Haxworth Wallace.

Cooking schools were popular with women at the turn of the century, particularly The Boston Cooking School, founded in 1879. Three women associated with the school are included in the display.  Fannie Merritt Farmer (1857-1915) trained at the Boston Cooking School and soon after became school principal.  Her cookbook, The Boston Cooking-School Cookbook, was first published in 1896 and included over 1,200 recipes with precise measurements as well as explanations of the hows and whys.  The cookbook (in its many revised and expanded editions) has never gone out-of-print. It is now sold as The Fannie Farmer Cookbook.  Janet McKenzie Hill (1852-1933) graduated of the Boston Cooking School in 1892 at age forty. She went on to found the Boston Cooking School Magazine (later American Cookery) in 1896. She was one of several women at the time that made a living writing cookbooks, doing cooking demonstrations, and lecturing. Maria Parloa (1853-1909) was trained as a teacher and published her first cookbook, The Appledore Cookbook, in 1872.  In 1877 she opened a cooking school in Boston and another in New York City in 1883.  She was one of the original lecturers at the Boston Cooking School when it opened in 1896.  Parloa, like Hill and Farmer, endorsed products with several promotional recipe pamphlets.

Women played an important role on the home front during both world wars. As the ones purchasing and preparing food for their families, women were especially aware of rations and food conservation.  Several pamphlets and books targeted specially to women are on display: War Cook Book for American Women by USDA (1917), 55 Ways to Save Eggs by Royal Baking Powder (1917), War-Time Breads and Cakes by Amy Handy (1918), War Time Recipes by Mary Elizabeth Evans (1918), Don’t Let Butter Rationing Scare You by Knox Gelatin (1942), and Meat Stretchers: 125 Tested Recipes (1943).

And lastly, we look at Betty Crocker.  Betty Crocker was born in 1921 to Washburn Crosby Company of Minneapolis, the makers of Gold Medal Flour.  The staff created Betty Crocker to answer correspondence for home cooks who they imagined didn’t want their letters answered by men.  They gave this fictional woman a signature (seen on her answers to questions from women and on her products), a face (although it changed over the years), and a voice (she debuted on the radio in 1934.)  The rest is history!

This information is from an Archives display in 2016.  Although not on display at this time, all of these resources are available in the Archives.

CIA Archives :: Frances Roth

“There is one person making a valiant effort to perpetuate classic cookery in this country. She is Mrs. Frances Roth, a handsome grandmother and lawyer, who until twelve years ago, had never seen the inside of the kitchen of a public dining room.”  –Craig Claiborne, New York Times (April 13, 1959)

Roth was co-founder of the Culinary Institute of America. A prominent attorney (and the first woman to pass the bar in Connecticut), she admitted her lack of kitchen knowledge in her handwritten history of the school: 

“I simply wanted to help out a few former associates and frankly I got on a merry-go-round and did not get off [illegible] for over 20 years. Remember I had never been in a commercial kitchen in my life - I knew good food - my mother was an expert in house cooking - and of course I had travelled the world and eaten in fine establishments - this was all I knew about the prep of food but many years of teaching and working with educators had given me a valuable background in the principles of good education - expert and dedicated faculty - respect for the manual worker - the right tools and facilities to work with - supervision by qualified personnel and depts of City and State.”

Frances Roth successfully led The Culinary Institute of America from its founding in 1946 until her retirement in 1965.

CIA Archives :: Women at the CIA

We notice here in the CIA Archives that a lot of people state with absolute certainty that women were not admitted to The Culinary Institute of America until 1970.  This is just not true. There were women in the very first class in 1946 and in almost every class until 1966 when women were not admitted for only 5 years–the reason stated in the catalog is because of limited facilities on the campus in New Haven, CT, where the school was located until it moved to the Hyde Park, N.Y. campus in 1972.

The CIA was founded by two remarkable women – Frances Roth was the first Director and ran the school until her retirement in 1966.  Katherine Angell, who was the wife of then-Yale president, James Rowland Angell, helped raise the funds to get the school up and running and keep it growing over the years.

Although established to train returning World War II veterans, it is important not to erase from history the women who did attend the school in those early days.  We only wish we knew more about who they were!

Read more about the CIA's history.

Handwritten Recipes :: Women Chefs

Zarela Martinez was one a many chefs who wrote Craig Claiborne a handwritten recipe for his 70th birthday in 1990.  Her recipe for Poblanos Rellenos (Stuffed Poblano Chiles) is one of our favorites from this collection!

On July 21, 1982, Claiborne’s column in the New York Times about Zarela Martinez was titled “Memorable Dishes from a Master Mexican Chef.”  Clearly a fan of her cooking, he described some of the dishes she prepared with a series of exuberant adjectives:

“[Her] dishes consisted of a spectacularly good blend of panfried large shrimp and squid with a garlic and chili sauce; a pleasantly pungent platter of dried ancho chilies stuffed with picadillo, or ground meat filling with raisins and olives; an immensely gratifying casserole of shredded chicken plus corn tortillas and sour cream; a bitingly spicy hot chili sauce to be used at random, and an ambrosial, smooth and comforting gelatin dessert, a sort of mango pudding.”

Historical Recipe Pamphlets :: Advertising Food to Women

The CIA's historical recipe pamphlet collection broadly illustrates the history of advertising from the late nineteenth century to the present. Women--as the shoppers and the cooks--were the primary audience of the companies. From an 1877 recipe book promoting Mrs. Winslow's Soothing Syrup to a 1972 Jell-O pamphlet promising that a mother will make her children happy by serving them Jell-O.  (The Jell-O pamphlets are particularly interesting and we wrote a three-part blog series looking chronologically at the ones from our collection: Part One - Part Two - Part Three.)


The companies produced recipes that used their specific brand thereby not only telling women that they should use those products, but showing them how to use them.  Sometimes the pamphlets were educational (as in the case of Crisco, consumers needed to be told why they should use this new product instead of the customary lard or butter) and other times they were shaming (i.e. “in order to be a good wife and mother you need to use this product!”) In addition to recipes, the companies also included hints for cooking and baking, general directions, histories of their companies, and entertaining ideas.

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