Culinary Book Club with Les Dames d’Escoffier
Whether it’s Anthony Bourdain’s “Kitchen Confidential,” A.J. Liebling’s “Between Meals: An Appetite for Paris,” or Julia Child’s “The French Chef,” few things satisfy my intellectual palate more than a great book about food. And Les Dames d‘Escoffier International (LDEI) and its New Orleans chapter offer a delightful recipe for good reading with its monthly culinary book club available free of charge to foodies interested in discussing food-related fiction and nonfiction.
Auguste Escoffier made French cuisine world famous as he revolutionized menus and organized the modern professional kitchen. Three of his cookbooks – Le Guide Culinaire (1903), Le Livre des Menus (1912), and Ma Cuisine (1934) – are still regarded as valuable references.
Escoffier’s culinary innovations include abolishing ostentatious food displays and elaborate garnishes, reducing the number of courses served at a formal meal, lightening sauces and emphasizing seasonal foods.
While respecting and preserving the principles of classical cuisine, he simplified its practice, saying, “Because it is simplified on the surface, it does not lose its value. On the contrary, tastes are constantly being refined and cooking must be refined to satisfy them.”
Escoffier was also a philanthropist who used his culinary resources and connections to do good things. It is believed that he was the first chef in the world to proactively enlist food and wine as fundraising vehicles.
In 1936, a group of epicures formed an all-male organization of dedicated gastronomes, Les Amis d’Escoffier Society of New York, Inc. In 1959, Les Dames des Amis d’Escoffier (LDEI), a dining and philanthropic society of women formed in response to the all-male club.
LDEI is now an international organization of women leaders with more than 2,300 members in 40 chapters providing leadership, educational opportunities and philanthropic events within their communities.
The Green Tables Initiative is one of its programs that was created to expand the relationships among urban and rural farms and gardens, to schools, restaurants and kitchen tables.
The next three meetings of LDEI’s book club will take place virtually on the third Saturday of the month at 9 a.m. PST/11 a.m. CST/12 p.m. EST. Registration is required in advance and a Zoom link will be emailed to participants the day prior. Guests can expect authors and special guests in attendance.
Upcoming dates and details follow.
- Saturday, April 17, 2021: “Love, Loss and What We Ate: A Memoir” by Padma Lakshmi A vivid memoir of food and family, survival and triumph, “Love, Loss, and What We Ate” traces the arc of Padma Lakshmi’s unlikely path from an immigrant childhood to a complicated life in front of the camera.
- Saturday, May 15, 2021: “The Man Who Ate Too Much: The Life of James Beard” by John Birdsall
The definitive biography of America’s best-known and least-understood food personality, and the modern culinary landscape he shaped. In stirring, novelistic detail, “The Man Who Ate Too Much” brings to life a towering figure, a man who still represents the best in eating and yet has never been fully understood―until now.
- Saturday, June 19, 2021: “How to Be a Conscious Eater: Making Food Choices That Are Good for You, Others, and the Planet” by Sophie Egan Egan helps us navigate the bewildering world of food so that we can all become conscious eaters. To eat consciously is not about diets, fads, or hard-and-fast rules. It’s about having straightforward, accurate information to make smart, thoughtful choices amid the chaos of conflicting news and marketing hype.
Book club attendance is free but a donation of $5 is suggested to support Les Dames d’Escoffier International and the New Orleans chapter’s goals to foster a supportive culture in our community in order to help women achieve excellence in the food, beverage and hospitality fields.
For details on the culinary book club and to RSVP, please visit LDEI Book Club.