James Beard was cookin' for 1972 Walla Walla Symphony benefit


Mention of the Marcus Whitman Hotel & Conference Center Executive Chef Antonio Campolio's impending trip to prepare a meal for the James Beard Foundation in New York City jogged the memory of a longtime Walla Walla Sympony supporter.

Jeannette Lazzari, 87, said Beard, a highly regarded culinary bon vivant and Portland native,came to Walla Walla to help raise funds for the symphony (in 1972, according to the U-B's 1973 Progress Edition).

Referred to as "The Father of American Gastronomy," Beard taught cooking methods through The James Beard Cooking School from 1955-1985 in New York City and Seaside, Ore., and around the country.

Prior to his death at 82 in early 1985, Beard authored at least 10 cookbooks -- many classics -- from 1959-1983.

"We're hearing a lot about Julia Child, which is fine, but Beard is notable, too," Jeannette said.

She and husband Horace moved to Walla Walla in 1949 from Canada and married here that October. They both have a classical music sensibility. Jeanette played piano for years and Horace, as a noted, in-demand accordionist, played around the West Coast for years.

"I was involved with Walla Walla Symphony for years. The symphony is my love," Jeannette said.

The opportunity to mix the symphony with a culinary superstar came about through Jeannette's good friend Emma Jane Brattain (wife of transistor inventor Walter H. Brattain).

When Jeannette found out Emma Jane met Beard in Portland Jeannette "thought it would be nice to have him here for a fundraiser for the symphony." Emma Jane made arrangements for the visit 40 years ago.

The event was at Cordiner Hall, Jeannette said. "We used the foyer for hors d'ouevres and desserts made from James Beard recipes. He was on stage with a stove, water and other culinary paraphernalia, and he cooked for the audience."

She can't recall what was prepared. "Quite a good crowd turned out for it, although they didn't fill the place" -- the result of not enough advance notice or advertising -- she said.

Jeannette estimated Beard's appearance raised $500-$700 for the symphony -- "quite a lot of money at the time." If they raised $600 in 1972, it would be worth a little more than $3,227 today, according to an online calculator.

The choice to serve appetizers at their fundraiser complements the beginning of Beard's culinary career. Born in 1903, he originally aspired to act on stage, but by 1935 when things didn't pan out, he switched gears and started a catering business to support himself.

"It revolutionized what then passed for cocktail food by offering more substantive fare," according to a biography on Beard. He opened small food shop Hors d'Oeuvre Inc. in 1937 and embraced a future in food and cooking.

He published "Hors d'Oeuvres & Canap├ęs" in 1940, the first major cookbook devoted to cocktail food, and two years later brought out the first serious work on "Cooking it Outdoors."

The same day Jeannette and I spoke about Beard's visit, she received a mailing for a cruise that had a culinary feature for foodies and will host James Beard award-winning chef Cheryl Forberg, who gives the presentations. Jeannette said she and Horace celebrated their 60th anniversary aboard a cruise ship.

The Beard name and American food go together like prosciutto-wrapped melon or chicken skewers with chili mayonnaise and peanuts. Beard is still very much a going concern.

A work by College Place quilter Marlene Oddie of KISSed Quilts is a semi-finalist in the Pacific West Quilt Show Aug. 24-26 in Tacoma, Wash.

Marlene's piece, "Spinner," was juried into the show and is her first to be accepted into its judged portion.

A layout challenge entry, "Spinner" uses Electric Quilt software's block-of-the-month issued in 2011, submitted to EQ's layout contest in early 2012, Marlene said.

The quilt is completely machine-pieced and -quilted.

The quilting sets off the design. There are three different fillers that are repeated four times in the spokes and a quilting motif in the six spirals in the background gives the effect of movement.

In addition, "Spinner" won EQ's layout contest earlier this year.

For anyone wishing to make this pattern, Marlene wrote a how-to tutorial and it's available for free on her blog.

Two more quilts by Marlene, "Starlight-Flutterbright" and "Valley Icons" were juried into the Pacific West Quilt Show's Member Exhibits last year.

"Valley Icons" was a group effort by Walla Walla Valley Quilt Guild members in which Marlene had a hand designing and did the custom quilting.

It was raffled off to raise funds to support the ongoing education of quilting to the guild's members.

"Starlight-Flutterbright" was a request by Highland Quilts owner Elaine Shaw for Marlene to design a quilt for the shop utilizing a new line of fabric.

This quilt can now be seen at the Highland Quilts shop in Athena.

Marlene's most recent quilt, "My Olympic Connection," finished at the end of this year's Olympics, honors track accomplishments her late grandfather that took him from California to Harvard to compete in U.S. track and field finals for the 1928 Olympics.

"Unfortunately he, pulled a muscle during the finals and was unable to continue," she said. More details about him are on her blog at www.kissedquilts.blogspot.com/2012/08/my-olympic-connection.html.

With permission from the U.S. Olympic Committee, Marlene wrote how to make the Olympic rings in EQ and published it on her blog as well as in the current issue of the Country Register in both Oregon and Washington.

KISSed Quilts provides long-arm machine quilting services and quilts by commission.

See more images and details at kissedquilts.blogspot.com; www.kissedquilts.com; and www.facebook.com/kissedquilts or contact Marlene at 509-386-5715 Sunday-Friday; or marlene@kissedquilts.com.

Etcetera appears in daily and Sunday editions. Annie Charnley Eveland can be reached at annieeveland@wwub.com or afternoons at 526-8313.


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