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Anne Willan of La Varenne Inspires Us

Anne Willan and Elizabeth Weinstein

Anne Willan, author of "The Cookbook Library," and Elizabeth Weinstein

Legendary cooking teacher Anne Willan had recently settled in Santa Monica with husband Mark Cherniavsky, leaving her celebrated École de Cuisine la Varenne in France’s Burgundian countryside for a quieter life near family in California, when we first met. Over lunch at the Santa Monica Seafood Market, I shared with her the first flickers of our idea for a journalism collective centered on food. Her enthusiastic support at such an early stage in our development continues to inspire all of us at Zester Daily.

At the time, Willan was in the thick of researching and writing “The Cookbook Library: Four Centuries of the Cooks, Writers, and Recipes That Made the Modern Cookbook.” Written in collaboration with Mark, Willan’s book has now been published, prompting her to write the delightful Zester Daily Soapbox “Fancy a Bit of Stuffed Peacock?,” introducing the rest of us to the treasures in their beloved cookbook collection.

Critical raves

The Scotsman heralds her book as an “absorbing ragout of serious history, beautiful coffee-table book and practical kitchen guide.” Among the outpouring of critical praise, the Philadelphia Inquirer says, “Whether it was the medieval spice trade (when a pound of nutmeg was worth seven fat oxen) or the 16th-century sugar rush (coinciding with colonial expansion), Western history lies in these ancient recipes.”

Willan hasn’t stopped teaching and is re-creating a bit of La Varenne in Santa Monica, hosting classes with the area’s most inventive chefs. When she is not in the kitchen, she is working on a memoir.

At a recent book signing at Chevalier’s Bookstore in my Los Angeles neighborhood of Hancock Park, it was a pleasure to see Anne surrounded by fans eagerly snapping up copies of “The Cookbook Library” for her to autograph. I felt more than a little pride in the fact that I introduced Anne to Elizabeth Weinstein, her assistant who helped manage the book through its final stages. In her other life, Elizabeth is Zester Daily’s marketing director.

Zester Daily is honored to announce Anne Willan as a member of our Advisory Board, supporting our mission to connect people around the globe through respect for and love of food.

Our advisers are longtime supporters and friends who have increased our relevance and reach. With the creation of the advisory board, we recognize and honor these sustaining relationships.

Click here to meet all of the members of the Zester Daily Advisory Board.

Top photo: Anne Willan and Elizabeth Weinstein at book signing for “The Cookbook Library.”

Corie Brown, the co-founder and general manager of Zester Daily, is an award-winning food writer at work on a book about climate change and wine.

Corie Brown, the co-founder and general manager of Zester Daily, is an award-winning food and wine writer. "Start Your Own Microbrewery, Distillery, or Cidery," a book she wrote with reporting from Zester Daily's network of contributors, was released by Entrepreneur Books in June 2015.

  • Elizabeth 7·11·12

    Thanks, Corie, for this lovely piece! Anne is a true inspiration!