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Who The Culinary Historians of Southern California Are:

People with a passion for food beyond the knife and fork founded the Culinary Historians of Southern California in 1995 as an affiliate of the Los Angeles Public Library. Typical of library patrons, they sought an intellectual as well as gastronomic approach to food, but not at the expense of taking themselves so seriously that they would forget to have fun.

Today’s membership of about 250 men and women spans a range of ages and occupations. It comprises not only food professionals, from chefs, writers and academics to product purveyors and restaurateurs, but also people in fields such as marketing, television, theatre, and museums. And then there are those simply intrigued by the mysteries of food and pleasures of the table.

Click here for a list of our Officers and Chairpersons.

What The Culinary Historians of Southern California Do:

We have fun learning about food history, trends and social implications of what and how we eat.

We present monthly forums, generally the second Saturday of the month at the Los Angeles Central Library, with refreshments that illustrate the lecture. These events are free and open to the public.  Click here for a Calendar of events.

We contribute to the library’s culinary collections, one of the most extensive in the country. It includes more than 18,000 cookbooks. Of note are 1,000 cookbooks published in California and the largest collection of Mexican cookbooks in the United States. For information about  recent acquisitions, click here.

We dine out and create culinary celebrations.

Membership Benefits:

  • Members-only events, such as the annual December party and July picnic are held at important sites such as the Gilmore Adobe, the Gamble House, Barbara Streisand Center, the Malibu Hills Vineyard, and Raleigh Studios
  • Dining out at ethnic restaurants, often in conjunction with monthly programs
  • Special excursions and tours, such as to the Getty Museum for “The Edible Monument” exhibit, and the “McDonald’s History Tour” with Chris Nichols
  • Free subscription to the Culinary Historians of Southern California Food Journal newsletter and a membership directory
  • Discounts on CHSC products/events
  • Occasional cooking demonstrations
  • Click here for a printable membership form

About Past Programs:

  • Charles Perry, renowned food historian and Los Angeles Times Food Section staff writer, gives an annual lecture
  • Cookbook authors Marcella Hazan, Paula Wolfert, Su-Mei Yu, Faye Levy, Judy Zeidler, Clifford Wright, Julie Sahni, and Nancy Zaslavsky, among others, talked about cuisines that influence how we eat
  • Programs on local food icons such as Trader Joe’s, Chasen’s, Lawry’s, tiki food and bygone Hollywood restaurants illustrated part of Southern California’s food history
  • Barbara Haber, author of From Hardtack to Home fries, and one of America’s most respected authorities on food history, spoke on “The Harvey Girls Tame the West,” among other topics
  • The late Simon Varey, contributor to Petits Propos Culinaires and editor of the two-volume The World of Dr. Francisco Hernandez, discussed healthy Aztec food in 16th century Mexico
  • Andy Smith, noted culinary historian, spoke about the Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, among other talks
  • Anne Willan and Mark Cherniavsky lectured on “A Feast of Words,” about cookbook collecting for serious collectors
  • Barbara Wheaton, author and distinguished culinary historian, discussed “The French Country Kitchen Table in the Early 19th Century.” Ms. Wheaton also led her one-week “A Food Historians’ Workshop: Reading Cookbooks as Sources for the Study of Social History” at the Central Library
  • Click here for a history of our past events

Culinary Historians Elsewhere:

CHSC is the only organization of its kind in Southern California, but we have plenty of company, on our “History Online” tab you will find links to other Culinary Historians Groups.