The Guild’s History

Our Guild was founded in 1979 by a group of female culinary professionals who yearned to connect with other women like them. They felt inspired by Bostonians past and present, who had accomplished great things in the food world – women like Fannie Farmer, Madeline Kamman, and Julia Child, whose “Julia Child & Co.” was then airing on WGBH. They had been contently filling their days with cooking in restaurant kitchens, catering parties, or penning cookbooks — but still, something was missing. They felt increasingly isolated, and realized that by reaching out to others like them, they could expand their knowledge, learn new skills, and support one another.

Friendship wasn’t necessarily a priority for what they named “The Women’s Culinary Guild,” but, indeed, strong bonds were forged. “We don’t think of it as a social group,” they wrote in their introductory letter to prospective new members, “but rather as an association of professionals who would meet to discuss problems and learn together and help each other in an area to which we are all strongly tied.”

Those early pioneers include such well-known culinary figures as Lora Brody (chef/cookbook author), Sheryl Julian (food writer/editor), Marian Morash (chef), Sara Moulton (chef), and Ann Robert (owner of Maison Robert, Boston), Dorothy Crandall (food editor), and Ruth Lockwood (Julia Child & Co.). Julia Child advised the group as their “special consultant.”

Several of these women attended the Guild’s 25th anniversary celebration (or submitted comments if they simply had to miss it), a grand event held at Upstairs on the Square in Cambridge, and shared what for them was so special about the Guild.

“Without the friendship, encouragement, and support of many of the Guild members,” said Lora Brody, “teaching cooking classes in France would have been as likely for me as a spacewalk.”

The first gathering of prospective Guild members was a “big party” about which Sheryl Julian recalled: “It was quite exciting to see a roomful of women – all somehow connected to the food business – who practically fell on one another. The women called and wrote for weeks afterwards to say how much they liked meeting other people who understood what it was like to be in the kitchen, or to write alone all day, and so forth.”

Click here to read the Guild Incorporators letter, sent by Lora Brody to Marian Morash in May of 1979.