Jones was the mastermind behind cookbooks by Julia Child, Jacques Pépin, and James Beard.
Judith Jones, who brought cookbooks from some of today’s most famous chefs to public, died yesterday at the age of 93 at her home in Vermont. The Washington Post reports that the cause was complications related to Alzheimer’s disease.
Jones edited Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking (along with co-authors Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle) , thus launching Child’s career and fueling her status as an iconic American chef.
“From the moment I started turning the pages, I was bouleversée, as the French say — knocked out,” she wrote of the seminal French cookbook in her memoir, The Tenth Muse. “This was the book I’d been searching for.”
Before Child found Jones, she feared the book was “unpublishable.”
However, Jones did not prefer to call herself a “cookbook editor.” She handled titles from such literary titans as John Updike and Langston Hughes, and famously discovered the manuscript for Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl in the rejection pile during her short stint at Doubleday, before moving to Knopf, where she spent most of career.
There is no denying that Jones was responsible for perfecting cookbooks from some of the culinary world’s luminaries, though. She worked with James Beard, Jacques Pépin, and Lidia Bastianich, among others. Jones learned to love French food while living in Paris; when she later began working at Knopf, she started out by translating the works of French philosophers Camus and Sartre.
Though she retired in 2003, after years of celebrating the cooking of others, Jones finally gave the public a glimpse into her personal life, and her own love of food. In 2006, she won the James Beard Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and the next year her memoir, The Tenth Muse: My Life in Food came out. Over the next several years, she published two cookbooks of her own, The Pleasures of Cooking for One and Love Me, Feed Me, a guide to cooking meals that can be shared with your dog.
Her insight and expertise on how to create a timeless cookbook will surely be missed by chefs, publishers, and amateur cooks who used the works she championed to celebrate food in their own way.