Richard Olney


Olney, whose nouvelle cuisine French food writing helped prepare the world for the Slow Food movement with recipes like chicken with 40 cloves of garlic, began his career as an American painter living in France. He fell in love with the herb-filled fields of Provence and set about composing a lyrical cookbook of local recipes that emphasized freshness and “simplicity,” which to him referred more to highlighting individual flavors and less to the difficulty level of the techniques involved. The French Menu Cookbook was the beginning of his fame in the English-speaking world; The Good Cook, a 28-volume series Olney edited on culinary basics commissioned by Time-Life Books, has been translated into twelve languages. He was also a wine taster who was honored with requests to write about two of France’s most iconic varieties: Chateau d’Yquem and the Domaine de la Romanee Conti.

Although Olney was gay – and close with James Baldwin -, few results found through a Google search mention that detail, perhaps because he was not known to have a lifelong romantic partner.

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