Mrs Goodfellow: The Story of America’s First Cooking School

by Becky Libourel Diamond

From the publisher: In Philadelphia during the first decades of the nineteenth century, Mrs. Elizabeth Goodfellow ran a popular bakery and sweet shop. In addition to catering to Philadelphia’s wealthy families and a reputation of making the finest desserts in the young country, her business stood out from every other establishment in another way: she ran a small school to teach the art of cooking, the first of its kind in America. Despite her notoriety—references to her cooking as a benchmark abound in the literature of the period—we know very little about who she was. Since she did not keep a journal and never published any of her recipes, we have to rely on her students, most notably Eliza Leslie, who fortunately recorded many of Goodfellow’s creations and techniques.

Mrs. Goodfellow is known for making the first lemon meringue pie and for popularizing regional foods, such as Indian (corn) meal. Through old recipe books, advertisements, letters, diaries, genealogical records, and other primary sources, Mrs. Goodfellow: The Story of America’s First Cooking School provides a more complete portrait of this influential figure in cooking history.

Becky Libourel Diamond is a journalist and research historian who specializes in reconstructing eighteenth-and nineteenth-century American recipes. She is the author of The Thousand Dollar Dinner: America’s First Great Cookery Challenge.

Westholme, 2011