NYPL Exhibitions

Juliet Corson

The first full-fledged cooking school in America opened in New York in 1876, the project of a self-supporting working woman named Juliet Corson who believed every woman should understand how to run a kitchen, whether or not she did her own cooking. Corson herself knew little about cooking before she started the school, but she read cookbooks by the best European authorities and absorbed their principles of skill, flavor, and economy. She planned at first to teach “artisans,” or working-class pupils, charging them only what they could afford to pay. Soon ladies, too, arrived for lessons, and Corson later introduced children’s classes. She published numerous cookbooks in the next twelve years, including pamphlets aimed at helping poor and working-class homemakers prepare satisfying meals for their families at low cost. Her first book, The Cooking Manual of Practical Directions for Economical Every-Day Cookery, featured pork chops with curry, an “oriental” omelet, toad-in-the-hole, and pot au feu—a wide-ranging view of thrifty cookery well suited to New York kitchens.