January 25, 1906|
Benson, New York
|Died||January 16, 1978
Cause of death
|Alma mater||Skidmore College|
|Employer||Neiman Marcus (1955-1975)|
Helen Corbitt (1906–1978) was an American chef and cookbook author. Corbitt was born in New York but spent nearly 40 years in Texas promoting gourmet cuisine with new and unusual flavor combinations and serving temperatures. She traveled widely searching for new culinary inspiration. She was an early advocate of using the finest, freshest ingredients.
She moved to Austin in 1931 from her job as dietitian at Cornell Medical Center in New York City to become an instructor and manage the tearoom at the University of Texas. She was lured to the Houston Country Club before operating the tearoom at Joske's department store in Houston and had started her own catering business when the Driskill Hotel called her back to Austin.
In 1955, after being courted by Stanley Marcus for eight years, she joined Neiman-Marcus as Director of Food Services. Several of her recipes are still on the department store's menu, including her famous Poppy Seed Dressing. In the 1969 edition of its famously extravagant Christmas catalog, Neiman-Marcus advertised the Neiman Marcus Kitchen Computer, the first computer ever offered as a consumer product, with an option to purchase collections of Corbitt's recipes for use with the device. Corbitt left Neiman-Marcus in late 1969 to write, teach, and consult.
Corbitt authored numerous cookbooks and was the first woman to receive the Golden Plate Award, the highest honor in the food business. In 1969, she was presented the Outstanding Service Award by the Texas Restaurant Association for "her inestimable contributions" to the food service industry. A 1975 profile by the Chicago Tribune described Corbitt as "the Balenciaga of food and the best cook in Texas". In December 1999, Texas Monthly declared Corbitt to be the "Tastemaker of the Century". In 2009, the Los Angeles Times described her as "the Julia Child-esque cooking celebrity with a Texas twang".
- "Social Security Death Index". RootsWeb. Retrieved March 8, 2011.
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- Sharp, Patricia (June 24, 2011). "The House That Helen Built". The Alcalde (Texas Exes). Retrieved August 16, 2013.
- Wilson, Karl (August 21, 1953). "It Happened Last Night". St. Petersburg Times (St. Petersburg, FL). Retrieved March 7, 2011.
- "Helen Corbitt presented 'Outstanding Service Award'". Mid-Cities Daily News (Hurst, TX). June 30, 1969. Retrieved March 7, 2011.
- Spicer, Dag (August 12, 2000). "If You Can't Stand the Coding, Stay Out of the Kitchen: Three Chapters in the History of Home Automation". Dr. Dobb's Journal. Retrieved August 16, 2013.
- Atkinson, Paul (June 2010). "The Curious Case of the Kitchen Computer: Products and Non-Products in Design History" (PDF). Journal of Design History 23 (2): 163–179. doi:10.1093.jdh/epq010.
- Chadwick, Susan (December 1985). "The His and Her Gift". Texas Monthly. p. 147. Retrieved August 16, 2013.
- Abram, Lynwood (November 5, 2000). "The Tallest Texans: From Politics, science, the arts, sports and business, here are 100 Tall Texans who left their mark on Texas and the rest of the world in the 20th century". Houston Chronicle (Houston, TX). Retrieved March 7, 2011.
- Will, Joanne (May 15, 1975). "VIP Cook". Chicago Tribune. p. S30. Retrieved March 8, 2011.
- Mackintosh, Prudence (December 1999). "Tastemaker of the Century—Helen Corbitt". Texas Monthly. Retrieved August 16, 2013.
- Garbee, Jenn (October 21, 2009). "PLAY DOUGH; Monkey bread, a pull-apart loaf, can be sweet, savory or just plain buttery". Los Angeles Times. p. E1. Retrieved March 8, 2011.
- de Grandchamp, Aline (November 15, 1957). "Top Texas Cook Always Imaginative". The Christian Science Monitor (Boston, MA). p. 10. Retrieved March 8, 2011.
- Millett, Ruth (December 17, 1957). "New Book Proves Cooking Can Be An Adventure". Nashua Telegraph (Nashua, NH). Retrieved March 8, 2011.
- Paddleford, Clementine (April 12, 1958). "What's Cooking In Texas?". The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, WA). p. 30. Retrieved March 8, 2011.
- Voltz, Jeanne (February 6, 1963). "Expert Hits Myths on Male Taste". Los Angeles Times. p. D1. Retrieved March 8, 2011.
- Hanley, Mary S. (February 23, 1969). "Meet Helen Corbitt: She Makes Dining a Pleasure". The Victoria Advocate (Victoria, TX). p. 1C. Retrieved March 8, 2011.
- Perrin, Gail (December 9, 1981). "Even Santa Delights in the Joy of Cookbooks". Boston Globe (Boston, MA). p. F1. Retrieved March 8, 2011.
One of the all-time treasures to come out this year is "The Helen Corbitt Collection," appropriately subtitled "Favorite Recipes from a Legendary Cooking Career".
- Johnson, Elizabeth Ann (November 1, 1987). "Remembering Helen Corbitt: The Dallas legend was ahead of the fads". The Dallas Morning News (Dallas, TX). Retrieved March 8, 2011.
Long before Southwest cuisine or nouvelle anything were in, Helen Corbitt was the single most important name associated with food in Texas and the Southwest.
- Kientz, Renee (October 15, 2000). "For decades, Texans were privileged to sit at Helen Corbitt's Table". Houston Chronicle (Houston, TX). p. 10. Retrieved March 7, 2011.
- Matheson, Claire (July 11, 2003). "The magic of monkey bread". Houston Chronicle (Houston, TX). p. 6. Retrieved March 7, 2011.
- Grodinsky, Peggy (February 28, 2007). "Edible Icons: Foods that shaped Texas". Houston Chronicle (Houston, TX). p. 1. Retrieved March 7, 2011.