Specialty Food Magazine

Summer 2020

Specialty Food Magazine is the leading publication for retailers, manufacturers and foodservice professionals in the specialty food trade. It provides news, trends and business-building insights that help readers keep their businesses competitive.

Issue link: https://www.e-digitaleditions.com/i/1256204

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Page 46 of 91

J R S L T H E S I LV E R PA L AT E J ulee Rosso and the late Sheila Lukins changed the way Americans eat and cook. In 1977, they opened one of the first gourmet food shops in the country, The Silver Palate, and co-authored three seminal cookbooks that sold in the millions. The shop was on the Upper West Side of Manhattan near Lukins' apartment in The Dakota where she did much of the cooking, having founded a catering business there. The shop itself was too tiny to accommodate a kitchen. "John Lennon would come in and sit by the breadbasket and chat," Rosso remembers of Lukins' neighbor in The Dakota. "One night, I was struggling in the snow to bring some beef Bourguignon from Sheila's to the shop, and he helped me carry it. He hung out to chat and then bought it and carried it back home." This neighborhood magnet had a wide reach since it was a time when high- quality takeout for singles, couples, or small dinner parties wasn't an option. The partners bought the best quality ingredients from all over town and people streamed in for their tarragon-flavored chicken salad, blueberry chutney, raspberry vinegar, salmon mousse, and sour cream coffeecake. Influential food writers like Florence Fabricant, Mimi Sheraton, Gael Greene, and Patricia Wells sniffed them out and wrote glowing articles. "Everybody said my mom really helped make everyday people who liked to cook become gourmet chefs," says Annabel Lukins, Sheila's daughter. "Her recipes were so easy to follow and made with her heart. People were enveloped in them like a good novel." "I think we made international flavors understandable," Rosso says. "We took a lot of the mystery away from what was thought of as exotic, like moussaka and pastilla. I always say I'm very proud that I made arugula happen in this country. I brought the seeds back from Italy and grew it on my terrace." Rosso spearheaded packaging their own jams, pickles, vegetable mosaics, and brandied winter fruits. It wasn't long before companies like Crate and Barrel and Saks Fifth Avenue clamored to feature the condiments in their stores and gift catalogs. By the mid-1980s, The Silver Palate was selling in 3,000 outlets across the country, Rosso says. The women were courted by big investors who wanted to mass-produce the brand. In 1986, they agreed to a deal and stayed around until 1988 to see through the transition. Lukins went on to write four more cookbooks and died of brain cancer in 2009, at the age of 66. Rosso, who has served on the SFA's board of directors, moved back to her native Michigan and runs the Wickwood Inn, in Saugatuck, with her husband. The Silver Palate brand lives on through Peter Harris, the president and CEO of Silver Palate Kitchens. —J.B. SPECIALTY FOOD SPECIALTYFOOD.COM L A A

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