Sheila Lukins (November 18, 1942 – August 30, 2009), was an American cook and food writer. She was most famous as the co-author, with Julee Rosso, of the The Silver Palate series of cookbooks, and The New Basics Cookbook, a very popular set of food guides which introduced many Americans to French, Southern and Eastern European cooking techniques and ingredients and popularized a richer and very boldly seasoned style of cooking to Americans in sharp contrast to the health-food movements of the 1970s. Together, their books sold more than seven million copies.
She was also the co-founder and owner of the popular Silver Palate gourmet shop in New York City and, for 23 years, the food editor and columnist for Parade, a position previously held by Julia Child.
Born Sheila Gail Block in Philadelphia, she grew up in Norwalk and Westport, Connecticut. She studied art at the Tyler School of Fine Arts, the School of Visual Arts and New York University, where she earned a bachelor's degree with honor in Art Education. After graduation, she attended Le Cordon Bleu in London, England, while working in graphic design. Her culinary education continued in France, where she worked alongside Michelin-starred chefs in Bordeaux.
In 1977 she returned to New York City and, with friend Julee Rosso, opened and ran a gourmet food shop in New York City called The Silver Palate at the corner of Columbus Avenue and 73rd Street. In the 1980s they wrote, with Michael McLaughlin, The Silver Palate Cookbook, which broke cookbook records by selling 250,000 copies in its first year and went on to sell 2.5-million copies, followed by The Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook, and others. In 1986, she replaced Julia Child as the food editor for Parade.
After 11 years working together, Rosso and Lukins split up in the 1990s in a widely reported feud. The Silver Palate shop, which had been sold to new owners in 1988, closed its doors in 1993, although a brand of sauces and condiments bearing its name continues to be sold. During this period Lukins published her own successful series of books including Sheila Lukins' All Round the World Cookbook and Celebrate! In 2007 she reunited with Rosso to publish a new 25th-anniversary edition of The Silver Palate Cookbook.
In December 1991, she suffered a cerebral hemorrhage which paralyzed most of her left side and nearly took her life. Some after-effects lasted for the rest of her life, but she was able to recover sufficiently to resume her position at Parade and to continue to write books.
She was married for many years to Richard Lukins, a security systems expert, with whom she had two daughters, Annabel and Molly.
with Julee Rosso
- The Silver Palate Cookbook, 1979
- The Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook, 1984 (Winner of the James Beard award in the "Entertaining" category in 1986)
- The New Basics Cookbook, 1989
- Silver Palate Desserts, 1995
By Sheila Lukins
- Sheila Lukins' All Round the World Cookbook, 1994
- USA Cookbook, 1997
- Celebrate!, 2003
- Ten: all the foods we love and ten perfect recipes for each, 2008
- Sheila Lukins biography on StarChefs
- Sheila Lukins, 66, Dies; Awakened Taste Buds, obituary by Julia Moskins in The New York Times, August 31, 2009
- Obituary by the Associated Press
- Sheila Lukins: Cookery Writer Who with Her Partner Julee Rosso Changed the Palates of Middle-Class America, The Independent, 10 October 2009