The Edible Monument: The Art of Food for Festivals


Anne Willan was a contributer to this book. The Edible Monument considers the elaborate architecture, sculpture, and floats made of food that were designed for court and civic celebrations in early modern Europe. These include popular festivals such as Carnival and the Italian Cuccagna. Like illuminations and fireworks, ephemeral artworks made of food were not well documented and were challenging to describe because they were perishable and thus quickly consumed or destroyed. In times before photography and cookbooks, there were neither literary models nor a repertoire of conventional images for how food and its preparation should be explained or depicted.

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Columbus Dispatch Interview

Anne &  Lisa Abraham talk about the 50 Essential Recipes Every Cook Needs To Know as highlighted in “Secrets from the La Varenne Kitchen”, her favorite meal and what recipe she thinks is due for a comeback. Read more here.


Duck Confit Salad

A colorful mix of tart greens — white and red endive, arugula, watercress, pea greens — is good for this salad. You’ll find canned duck leg confit in a can. Serves 4 2 confit duck legs 1 small bulb fennel 1 medium head white Belgian endive 1 medium head red Belgian endive or one more

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Golden Peach Jam

Peaches are in peak season right now and my favorite way to preserve them is to make jam. This time of year you can find ripe peaches almost anywhere and our local farmer’s market had a bushel at a price that couldn’t be beaten. Making jam is a two-day process as the peaches should macerate with

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10-7-15 Anne Willan to VNA Meals on Wheels Luncheon

VNA Meals on Wheels LogoCMYK_printOn October 7th, Anne Willan will be joining VNA Texas for their sixth annual luncheon benefiting the Meals on Wheels organization. This intimate gathering will feature special recipes and stories from Secrets from the La Varenne Kitchen. We are honored to take part in this wonderful event that has helped to provide more than 146,500 home-delivered meals to elderly neighbors in Dallas. For ticketing and event details, click here.

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5 Questions with Virginia Willis

unnamed-1La Varenne alum and Southern cooking expert Virginia Willis sat down with us for 5 questions. In honor of her new book, Lighten Up Y’all, we got the dish on everything from her love of okra to an ‘aha moment’ at La Varenne in Burgundy. Here’s what she had to say:

1. When you’re not cooking Southern comfort food or traditional French cuisine, what regional cooking do you like to prepare?

While I consider myself an expert in Southern cooking and have a great deal of French training, I actually like to cook many different kinds of cuisines. Lately, I have been particularly interested in middle Eastern cooking. I am excited to taste and experiment with the different herbs and spices.

2. What classic Southern ingredient or dish do you think is underappreciated?

Okra! Folks really have a love or hate relationship with okra.

3. Do you have a fond memory (perhaps something you learned, cooked or ate) that sticks out from your time at La Varenne?

There are so many memories from cooking and learning at LV! There was an opportunity to learn around every corner. Undoubtedly, working with the fresh ingredients from the potager was inspiring and the exposure to so many different chefs and techniques was inspiring and educational. Guerilla jam making on the fly while making dinner for 20 at the same time sticks out as a pretty intense memory for a completely different reason….One of the most important to me in my mind was a personal one. Anne and I were butting heads over something and I was incredibly frustrated. I went upstairs to my room, cursing underneath my breath, and slammed open the window and said to myself, “what am I doing here?!”. Well, I looked out the window and all I could see on the hillside in the distance were tall, bright sunflowers waving in the summer breeze, their faces turned towards the sun. I was literally stunned with the beauty to the point it forced me off my feet and onto an adjacent bench. There was my answer, that’s why I was there. I’ll never forget that moment.

4. How did your experience working with Anne Willan influence your career?

Anne Willan is one of the hardest working people I have ever met in my life. She’s always doing, always working, always writing, always striving to do more. She’s an incredible inspiration to me. I have received awards and accolades in my life and throughout my career, but having the respect of Anne Willan and hearing her say, “Well done” is one of my highest honors. 

5. What advice do you have for young cooks hoping to find their footing in the world of food?

Raise your hand. Volunteer. Do more. Learn. Go. Pay attention. One thing that Anne said to me many years ago was, “Learn the scales before you play the music. Cooking is about creativity, but itʼs important to acquire discipline first.” Good sage, advice.

Order The Cookbook Tree of Life

treeoflifeThe Cookbook Tree of Life will be celebrated this weekend at The Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery. This gorgeously illustrated letterpress broadside tracks the development of cookbooks through four centuries and half a dozen languages.  It features original artwork by Keith Cranmer and was crafted by master printer Norman Clayton. Printed in seven colors on 100% cotton paper, this 16 x 20 inch poster is part of a limited edition print run of only 200 signed and numbered copies. Order yours now; it’s destined to be a cherished collectible!

Size: 16”x 20”
Price: $65.00

To order, email or call 310-889-8960.

Remembering an Old Friend: The Olio Cookery Book

Zester Daily “As soon as I had learned to read, in the down moments of the kitchen while a cake baked, I would huddle in a corner to avoid Emily’s feet and pick up the Olio. The limp, brownish cover enclosed surprising information among its 1,400 recipes.” (Anne Willan in Zester Daily)

Many thanks to Zester Daily for publishing my story on Olio. It was a pleasure to revisit the old book after so many years on the shelf. Enjoy!

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