The papers of Anne Willan, a
British-American expert in French gastronomy, provide a comprehensive survey of the
operations of the École de cuisine La Varenne founded by Willan in Paris in 1975 and of
Willan's writings and TV programs. The papers consist of correspondence, brochures, drafts,
typescripts, press clippings, photographs, videos, and electronic records. The archive also
includes drawings, ephemera, manuscripts and prints collected by Willan and her husband Mark
Cherniavsky. Dating from the 16th to the late 20th century, these works illuminate the
preparation and consumption of food and its display in England, France, Germany, Italy, the
Netherlands, and the United States.
A few days before the École de cuisine La Varenne opened in Paris on the rue
Saint-Dominique near Les Invalides in November 1975, the American food critic Craig
Claiborne gave his blessing to the new cooking school in a New York
Times article. Notwithstanding the smell of fresh paint and the necessity to make
his way over the newly installed telephone lines, Claiborne described his visit to the
establishment as uplifting. Named after the French cook François-Pierre de la Varenne
(1618-1678), the school was from the onset endowed with the financial support and logistical
advice of culinary experts Julia and Paul Child, James Beard, Simone "Simca" Beck, and that
of Nick Brown-the brother of J. Carter Brown, director of the US National Gallery of Art.
The cooking school benefited from the unwavering partnership of its director, Anne Willan,
with her husband Mark Cherniavsky, a World Bank economist and a collector of antiquarian
books. Willan ensured the continuing success of La Varenne and the culinary programs she
directed in Paris, Burgundy, West Virginia, and later Santa Monica, California. In 2014,
Willan was awarded the rank of Chevalier of the Légion d'Honneur for her work over several decades on the
promotion of French gastronomy.
178.63 linear feet
(224 boxes, 14 flat file folders. Computer media: 14.86 GB
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