Over fifty years ago, before Chez Panisse, before California Cuisine, before Farm to Table, there was Sally Schmitt. San Francisco Chronicle Food Editor, Michael Bauer, has called Sally a legend and hailed her as “one of the great unsung heroes of California Cuisine,” calling her “as much a pioneer as Alice Waters.” Joyce Goldstein, in her book, Inside the California Food Revolution, wrote that Sally “opened one of the first restaurants to offer what would become identified as California Cuisine,” and that Sally “was a locavore before the term was even coined.” Julia Child, Richard Olney, Marion Cunningham, and yes, Alice Waters, all dined at Sally’s restaurant, The French Laundry. When noted chef, Cindy Pawlcyn, first started out, she tore a photo of Sally out of a magazine and carried it around with her in her wallet for fifteen years until it wore out. And when Thomas Keller, who bought The French Laundry from Sally and her husband, Don, published his landmark The French Laundry Cookbook, he gave them the very first copy off the press, and had as the last recipe in the book, “Sally Schmitt’s Cranberry and Apple Kuchen with hot Cream Sauce ,” along with a glowing tribute to them.
Though Sally’s recipes have been published and republished in Gourmet, Saveur, The New York Times, and The Los Angeles Times, Six California Kitchens: Sally Schmitt’s Stories & Recipes From Over a Half-Century of California Cooking will be the first ever compilation of her work and writing. Part memoir, part how-to, and all about Sally’s cooking, Six California Kitchens will include over a hundred of the recipes that had people booking a table months in advance at The French Laundry.
1 SF Gate, published Sept. 11, 1994: http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/French-Laundry-Spruced-Up-3330484.php (accessed Nov. 25, 2017)
2 Joyce Goldstein, with Dore Brown, Inside the California For Revolution: Thirty Years that Changed our Culinary Consciousness, University of California Press, 2013, pp 3-4.
3 Carolyn Jung, Like Grandmother, Like Grandson, April 2011, Food Arts
4 Thomas Keller, with Susie Heller and Michael Ruhlman, The French Laundry Cookbook, Artisan, 1999, pp 312-3.