The Best from Helen Corbitt's Kitchens
Stanley Marcus declared Helen Corbitt “the Balenciaga of Food.” Earl
Wilson described her simply as “the best cook in Texas.” Lyndon B.
Johnson loved her stroganoff and wished she would accompany him—and Lady
Bird—to the White House to run the dining room.
Helen Corbitt is to American cuisine what Julia Child is to French.
Corbitt’s genius was in presentations of new and unusual flavor
combinations, colors, and even serving temperatures. She insisted on the
finest, freshest ingredients, served with impeccable style. As Director
of Food Services for Neiman Marcus, she traveled widely, bringing
recipes back to tantalize Texans’ tastebuds.
An Irish red-head born in New York and raised with Edwardian rules and
grace, Corbitt lassoed appetites across Texas when she moved there in
1931 from her job as dietitian at Cornell Medical Center in New York
City to manage the tea room at the University of Texas. She was lured to
the Houston Country Club before operating the tearoom at Joske’s
department store in Houston and had started her own catering business
when the Driskill Hotel called her back to Austin.
Stanley Marcus “courted” her for eight years until she finally accepted
his offer to direct his Dallas store’s lunchtime oasis. She then dazzled
celebrities and dignitaries who flocked to the famed Zodiac Room at
Neiman Marcus for tantalizing cuisine.
Now, you can savor Helen Corbitt all over again—or perhaps for the first
time—through a brand new Helen Corbitt cookbook. In The Best from Helen
Corbitt’s Kitchens, Patty MacDonald serves up more than 500 favorite
recipes from Helen Corbitt’s Cookbook, published in 1957, Helen
Corbitt’s Potluck (1962); Helen Corbitt Cooks for Company (1974);
Helen Corbitt Cooks for Looks (1967); and Helen Corbitt’s Greenhouse
Cookbook, published after her death in 1978, as well as many never
before published recipes, many from her cooking schools.
Vintage photographs spice up a chapter on Helen’s life written from
interviews with Stanley Marcus, men and women who attended Corbitt’s
cooking classes, her personal friends, and her employees at the Driskill
Hotel in Austin and the Zodiac Room at Neiman Marcus.
Corbitt’s memory still lives through an older generation of admirers,
who will want the book for themselves and as gifts for their offspring
to keep her precious culinary heritage alive. Good cooks of all ages
will recognize the value of these recipes. Corbitt’s recipes are from an
era of honest delectable food.
Dallas Morning News columnist Dick Hitt wrote that Corbitt was “a
no-nonsense woman… capable of humor, who often… used it as she would
a pungent spice: for hinting at the substance of a point… a curious
combination of elegance and gusto, impatience and painstaking
perfectionism, femininity and jaunty zest… subtle and imperious,
ebullient and unerringly correct… She was a bouillabaisse of a person,
part administrator, part hostess, part duchess and part Mother