October 21 Event Celebrates Acquisition

The Fales Collection at New York University’s Elmer Holmes Bobst Library has received a collection of historically significant materials concerning James Beard, the internationally known cookbook author and culinary educator, considered by many to be the father of modern American cooking.

The collection, donated by the noted restaurant consultant Clark Wolf, a long-time friend of the late Beard, features letters to and articles by and about Beard, as well as photographs dating back to Beard’s childhood.

On Tuesday, October 21, 6:30 p.m., the NYU Fales Collection will celebrate the acquisition of the Beard Papers with a reading and exhibition commemorating James Beard’s 100th birthday. Participants include: Betty Fussell, food critic and author of My Kitchen Wars; chef and food writer Judith Jones; Marion Nestle, professor and chair of the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies and Public Health at NYU and author of Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health; current editor of Gourmet and former New York Times restaurant critic Ruth Reichl, and Clark Wolf. The event takes place at NYU’s Bobst Library, 3rd floor, 70 Washington Square South. For further information and to reserve a seat, call (212) 998-2596. “It is not often a curator gets tingles up his spine and tears in his eyes at the same time,” said Marvin Taylor, head of the Fales Collection. “This marvelous donation will expand upon and enhance the NYU Libraries’ Food Studies collection. Last year we acquired the Cecily Brownstone Collection of American Cookery, containing some 12,000 books and 5,000 pamphlets. This collection will add measurably to our current focus on American, New York City, and Greenwich Village-related material in Food Studies.”

According to Taylor, the letters were given to Clark Wolf by Beard’s long-time personal assistant, Emily Gilder, who had rescued them from the wastebasket between their desks. Gilder gave them toWolf not long after Beard’s death in 1985 with instructions to “do the right thing when the time comes.”

“Beard was America’s foremost cook and greatest champion,” said Wolf. “His influence, from mac and cheese, to local, regional, and seasonal food, is much in evidence today. He was highly visceral, very emotional, but not at all sentimental, so keepsakes and artifacts were not abundant. In fact, his other papers are in Wyoming. This gift was an important opportunity to gather materials for study right in his old neighborhood.”

The Fales Collection at NYU comprises nearly 200,000 volumes of both rare books and manuscripts in English and American literature, and the general special collections from the NYU Libraries. It is especially renowned for its Downtown Collection, which documents the downtown New York art and literary scene from 1975 to the present.

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