5 Female Public Television Cooking Pioneers Who Proved All You Need Is Courage And A Sharp Knife

In 1796, a woman authored American Cookery, the first American-written cookbook. It influenced New England food culture by introducing dishes like cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie, and is considered by the Library of Congress to be one of the “Books That Shaped America.”

In 1866, a Black woman published A Domestic Cook Book: Containing a Careful Selection of Useful Receipts for the Kitchen. The cookbook presented over 200 Southern recipes, including fried catfish, and highlighted the complex culinary skills required to cook the dishes properly. It’s the first known cookbook by a Black woman in the United States.

In 1946, two women laid the foundation for the Culinary Institute of America, a world-class institution that didn’t accept female students until the 1970s. Today, its undergraduate enrollment is 51% female.

The history of food culture in America is overflowing with stories of exceptional women — and nowhere is their influence more outsized than in the genre of educational cooking programs. From Julia Child’s ability to take the mystery out of French cuisine to Joyce Chen using her show’s popularity to advocate for political policy changes, the five women below lent their talents to the culture of education-based cooking shows and not only created a new genre of programming; they also molded the way we cook, eat, talk, and think about food today.

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