I’d like to note the passing of two very important women in the food industry: Gretchen Mathers and Sharon Tyler Herbst. Both of these women had a significant influence on my career. Both of them died too soon, of cancer; Sharon suffered from ovarian cancer and Gretchen from breast cancer.
Gretchen Mathers was an icon of the Seattle food scene. She was one of the first female chefs to make a name for herself in what is still a very guy-dominated industry. Gretchen’s Catering and Gretchen’s Shoebox Express were big names while I was in school. She and a handful of other women like Chris Keff, Barbara Figueroa and Marcella Rosene were held up as examples of women’s achievement.
Sharon Tyler Herbst wrote many books, but the most influential in my life was The Food Lover’s Companion. I still use my well-thumbed 2nd edition, given to me as a going-away gift from my friends at Williams-Sonoma. I used to ask them to quiz me on everything from ebelskeevers to unagi, and I dreamed of one day using such exotic things myself. It’s not an exaggeration to say that a copy of this book has been in every kitchen I’ve ever worked in.
Thank you both for your work and love. Thank you, also, for giving me something to dream about.
Ladies, get your screenings early and often. Everyone, donate generously to the charities that benefit research into breast, ovarian and lymphatic cancer-the most common forms of cancer affecting women. These are the organizations that I contribute to through sporting events, but they also take cash donations: Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society,and the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund.
Sharon was my sister-in-law, and I really appreciate your comments about this wonderful woman! She was the sister I never had, and a wonderful friend. She is missed by her family, and especially her husband Ron and her sister and my beautiful wife Tia, and her mom Catherine. She was definitely one-of-a-kind.
I am so touched that you wrote in. Sharon’s work (and her husband’s!) means a lot to me, and I’m glad there’s plenty of it left for me to read. She was obviously much loved by her family as well. Thanks for sharing your words.