[UCP Books]: The Culinarians: Lives and Careers from the First Age of American Fine Dining by David S. Shields

Travel back to the earliest days of American restaurants­—an early golden age of fine dining


The Culinarians is more than a collection of biographies. It is a celebration of lost voices—cooks, creators, and visionaries who paved the way for the food we eat today. With this book, Shields pulls back the curtain of modern cuisine in America to reveal a story we forgot existed.”

Dan Barber, chef and co-owner of Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barns, and author of The Third Plate



The Culinarians

Lives and Careers from the First Age of American Fine Dining
David S. Shields


Publication date: November 7, 2017 $45.00/£34.00
International publication date: November 20, 2017  



Prepare to be dazzled. What you’re holding is a time capsule: an amazing, beautifully illustrated biographical compendium of the chefs and restaurateurs who created American cuisine’s first golden age.

Stretching from the early Republic to Prohibition, Shields’s labor of love is full of fascinating figures, largely forgotten, who laid the foundations for the restaurant culture—and the cuisine—we still enjoy today. In these pages, we meet: Thomas Downing, the black abolitionist and civil rights activist who helped to put out the great fire of 1835 with vats of vinegar, and of whom it was written that “the oysters so well know him that they leave their shells with pleasure”; Sam Ward, the other “Uncle Sam,” whose culinary talents indispensably bolstered his Democratic lobbying and even lured Oscar Wilde to spend a night in his New York mansion in a room adorned with lilies; and Agnes Moody, the ex-fugitive slave who was appointed by the US Commissioner to present at the World Exposition in Paris, and whose oratory vitally transformed public opinion about the palatability of corn. 


No fan of fine dining or home chef will want to miss The Culinarians.


David S. Shields is the Carolina Distinguished Professor at the University of South Carolina and chairman of the Carolina Gold Rice Foundation. He has been the recipient of the Southern Foodways Alliance’s Ruth Fertel Keeper of the Flame Award, and his other books include Southern Provisions: The Creation and Revival of a Cuisine.


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