Becky Diamond & Lynne Farrington discuss MRS. GOODFELLOW

Please join us for a reading, discussion, & even some baked treats (!!!) as Becky Libourel Diamond
—author of Mrs. Goodfellow: The Story of America's First Cooking School
is in conversation with Lynne Farrington!

In Philadelphia during the first decades of the nineteenth century, a widow, Mrs. Elizabeth Goodfellow, ran a popular bakery and sweet shop. In addition to catering to Philadelphia’s wealthy families and a reputation of making the finest desserts and sweet dishes in the young country, her business stood out from every other establishment in another way: she ran a small school to teach the art of cooking, the first of its kind in America. Despite her notoriety— references to her cooking as a benchmark abound in the literature of the period—we know very little about who she was. Since she did not keep a journal and never published any of her recipes, we have to rely on her students, most notably Eliza Leslie, who fortunately recorded many of Goodfellow’s creations and techniques. Goodfellow is known for making the first lemon meringue pie and for popularizing regional foods, such as Indian (corn) meal.

By assembling the many parts of this puzzle from old recipe books, advertisements, letters, diaries, genealogical records, and other primary sources, the author has been able to provide a more complete portrait of this influential figure in cooking history. Mrs. Goodfellow: The Story of America’s First Cooking School begins with what we know about Elizabeth Goodfellow and the kinds of foods that would have been available to her and how she may have used them, and then turns to the rise of both commercial eating establishments and books of recipes. From here, the author explains the rapid expansion of cooking schools, such as the New York Cooking Academy and the Boston Cooking School, made famous through its association with Fannie Farmer, and ends with a discussion of the role of celebrity chefs. Thoroughly researched and including a range of authentic recipes, Mrs. Goodfellow is a delicious exploration of the life and legacy of one of America’s most influential cooks.

Praise for Mrs. Goodfellow

“A delicious exploration of the life and legacy of one of America's most influential cooks.”—Pennsylvania Heritage

“Fills a large gap in American culinary history.”—Library Journal

“A fascinating sociocultural and commercial history.”—Publishers Weekly

“Becky Diamond is the expert on this fascinating historical figure.”—Chef Walter Staib, A Taste of History (PBS)

Becky Libourel Diamond is a food writer and research historian. Her second book, The Thousand Dollar Dinner, tells the unique story of a nineteenth century culinary challenge between Philadelphia restaurateur James Parkinson and the Delmonico family of New York.  She is also the author of Mrs Goodfellow: The Story of America's First Cooking School. She is currently working on a book about The Jayne Building, America’s first skyscraper, and is partnering with fellow epicurean Max Tucci to write the story of Oscar’s Delmonico restaurant. She lives in Yardley, PA.

Lynne Farrington is the Senior Curator, Special Collections, in the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts at the University of Pennsylvania., where among her many curatorial responsibilities is the building and overseeing of Penn’s cookery collections. She has curated numerous exhibitions on diverse topics and is currently working on Whitman Vignettes: Camden and Philadelphia, an exhibition in conjunction with the bicentennial of the birth of Walt Whitman in 2019. She is also the project director of the Pew-funded Whitman at 200: Art and Democracy, which is organizing exhibitions and events, including four artistic commissions, throughout the Philadelphia/Camden region, in conjunction with Whitman’s birthday. A website (, which will have a calendar of events happening throughout 2019, will go live in November.

Event date: 
Tuesday, December 4, 2018 - 6:00pm
Event address: 
Penn Book Center
130 S. 34th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Mrs. Goodfellow: The Story of America's First Cooking School Cover Image
ISBN: 9781594163074
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Westholme Publishing - September 7th, 2018

The Thousand Dollar Dinner: America's First Great Cookery Challenge Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781594162602
Availability: Currently not available
Published: Westholme Publishing - September 1st, 2016