Chefs Gone Postal
Stamps a reminder to keep learning
While standing in line at the post office the other day, I noticed a philatelic treasure in the display case. Titled “Celebrity Chefs,” these stamps were too cool to pass up; I bought a sheet — O.K., more like three.
Only five chefs grace these postage pretties that have a timeless — “forever” — quality about the artwork. In rich hues and wearing smiles, Edna Lewis, Felipe Rojas-Lombardi, Joyce Chen, Julia Child and James Beard come to life, giving your next greeting card envelope that special spice you didn’t even know it was missing.
I surely became nostalgic when I saw Julia in the group. I remember watching her on TV when I was young, pretending to have my own cooking show but with smaller pots and pans and no actual recipe in mind — and no real food, for that matter.
There will never be another Julia Child; the same goes for James Beard, too.
I don’t have a personal connection with James as with Julia — even though he was born and raised in Oregon — but his culinary impact is just as profound, and maybe even more so with the James Beard Foundation.
He lives on through the nonprofit, established in his honor to provide scholarships to aspiring chefs and champion the American culinary tradition, which Beard helped create.
His house has been immortalized, too. Friends and fellow chefs, including Julia, helped raise enough money for the down payment on his Greenwich Village brownstone, transforming it into the only world-class culinary center of its kind — turn to page 48 to learn more about JBF with its president, Susan Ungaro.
Regarding the other three chefs gone postal, I didn’t know who they were until I read their bios on the back of the stamp sheet.
I am not embarrassed to admit “not knowing.” There is so much to digest in the culinary — and wine — world that you’d sound foolish to pretend omniscience in these or any subject of interest.
Both Julia Child and James Beard were constantly striving for greater understanding, asking questions, attempting new things, never thinking they had nothing else to learn in the kitchen; this is what made them so endearing, so loved.
And so iconic. How do I know? I have this cool sheet of stamps from the post office ...