This Week in History


Lifetime achievement award for cookbook author Joan Nathan

April 30, 2001
Joan Nathan
Full image
Acclaimed cookbook author, Joan Nathan

Acclaimed cookbook author Joan Nathan found her way to food writing from a very different, if related, field. Armed with a master's degree in French Literature, she took a job as foreign press officer to Jerusalem mayor Teddy Kollek. Inspired by his habit of conducting meetings over meals, Nathan wrote and published her first cookbook, The Flavor of Jerusalem, in 1975.

The success of Nathan's first book was followed by the publication of The Jewish Holiday Kitchen in 1979, An American Folklife Cookbook in 1984, and Jewish Cooking in America in 1994. Jewish Cooking in America was an instant hit, winning both the Julia Child Best Cookbook Award and the James Beard Award for Best American Cookbook. In addition to writing cookbooks, Nathan helped found New York City's Ninth Avenue Food Festival. In March, 2001, Nathan published The Foods of Israel Today, which contains recipes from Muslim and Christian as well as Jewish traditions.

On April 30, 2001, she was awarded the Who's Who of Food and Beverage in America award for lifetime achievement from the James Beard Foundation.

Nathan is the host of the PBS television show Jewish Cooking in America with Joan Nathan, based on her award-winning book. The show combines recipes, history, and visits to chefs. Nathan contributes articles to Bon App├ętit, Food & Wine, Cooking Light, Hadassah Magazine, and the New York Times. Joan Nathan's Jewish Holiday Cookbook (2004) combines and updates the earlier Jewish Holiday Baker (1997) and Jewish Holiday Kitchen (1979).

In 2005, Nathan utilized the research for her book The New American Cooking: An American Folklife Cookbook in her role as guest curator of Food Culture USA at the 2005 Smithsonian Folklife Festival. The New American Cooking won the 2006 International Association of Culinary Professionals Cookbook Award in the American category. Her latest book is called, Quiches, Kugels and Couscous: My Search for Jewish Cooking in France (2010).

Joan Nathan shares the story and recipe of her mother-in-law's gefilte fish recipe on the Beyond Bubbie website.

To learn more about Joan Nathan, visit Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia. Joan Nathan was interviewed as part of JWA's Washington D.C. oral history exhibit.

See also: Go & Learn Primary Documents and Lesson Plans: Jewish diversity and innovation: The view from the kitchen; Food in the United States; Eating Jewish: North African Salads, Eating Jewish: Shabbat Bread Done Differently, Eating Jewish: Cream Cheese Rugelah and Eating Jewish: Coconut Jam, Jewesses with Attitude.


See events for a specific date

This Week in History offers a unique calendar of American Jewish experience—connecting specific dates throughout the year to an array of compelling historic events related to American Jewish women.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "This Week in History - Lifetime achievement award for cookbook author Joan Nathan." (Viewed on April 24, 2014) <>.