Colette Rossant

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Colette Rossant
ResidenceFrance, USA
Alma materSorbonne
Occupationwriter, cookbook author, translator, restaurateur, teacher
Notable credit(s)author of three food memoirs, seven cookbooks, and four translations
Spouse(s)James Rossant
ChildrenMarianne, Juliette, Cecile, Tomas
RelativesEddy Palacci

Colette Rossant (born 1932) is a French-American cookbook author, journalist, translator, and restaurateur, who is a member of the Pallache family.



Chapel of Sainte Ursule at the Sorbonne, where Rossant studied

Born in Paris, Rossant traveled with her mother to Cairo to live with her father and her father's family during World War II. Her mother spent much of the war in Beirut (part of the French Mandate for Syria and the Lebanon), while her brother Eddy Palacci remained in Paris with their mother's parents.[1]

After World War II, Rossant returned to Paris and lived with her grandmother and brother, joined occasionally by her mother. In Paris, she studied at the Lycée La Fontaine. She spent a year learning English at Roedean School near Brighton, UK. She earned a B.A. in Comparative Literature at the Sorbonne in 1954. She married American architect James Rossant in 1955.[2]


View of Lower Manhattan, where Rossant moved in 1955.

Moving to New York with her husband in 1955, Rossant pursued several careers, often simultaneously: teaching, writing, translating, restaurant business, and raising a family.[3]

Rossant spent many years teaching French. She was first a language instructor at the Browning School (1957–1961). She then taught French at Hofstra University (1961–1970). She became head of the French department at St. Anne's School (1970–1983). Her last position was as Liaison Officer at the New York branch of Crédit Lyonnais (1985–2000).

Exploring New York, Rossant became very interested in bettering the food she found there. She published her first of seven cookbooks in 1975 (and last to date in 1991). Her third cookbook, A Mostly French Food Processor Cookbook (1980) sold more than 50,000 copies and made a name for her in the Food industry. She became "underground gourmet" for New York Magazine in the 1980s. She served as food and design editor for McCalls Magazine (1983–1990). She then became a columnist for the New York Daily News, where she wrote a popular Wednesday column called "Ask Colette." Currently, she contributes to Food Arts and Super Chef magazines.

Rossant helped launch two restaurants in New York. Buddha Green[4] (1998–1999) opened in Mid-Town Manhattan and featured original, vegetarian "Buddhist" cuisine. Dim Sum Go Go[5] (2000–2003) opened in Chinatown and featured original Imperial Cantonese cuisine, although Rossant has stopped consulting there. Her husband James Rossant helped design both, while son Tomas Rossant helped on the interior at Buddha Green.

Rossant has traveled abroad (often with her husband, whose architectural design work took him to countries like Bhutan, Tanzania, and Turkey). Her lifelong interest in Asian cuisines took her to China and Japan, reflected in her cookbooks and restaurants.


Dorceau in Orne, France, near Rossant's home since 2002

With children grown and married, Rossant's most recent books have been memoirs: Apricots on the Nile (2004, originally published as Memories of a Lost Egypt in 1999), Return to Paris (2003), and The World in My Kitchen (2006).

In 2002, Rossant moved from New York back to France, but rather than return to Paris again (as she had as a teenager), she went to live in the department of Orne, two hours west of Paris. In 2009, Rossant's husband of 55 years died.[6] She continues to live in their home near Condeau, France, on whose town council she has served.[7] She continues to contribute to Super Chef,[8] Food Arts,[9] and Pays du Perche magazines and is writing a twelfth book.

In November 2010, Rossant received the Prix Eugenie Brazier for the French translation of her first memoir, Memoire d'une Egypt perdue (Editions Les Deux Terres 2010).[10]

Rossant appears during an interview in Rebekah Wingert-Jabi's 2015 documentary Another Way of Living: The Story of Reston, VA, along with excerpt of an interview with late husband James.[11][12]


"Man in Oriental Costume" by Rembrandt, thought to be Samuel Pallache (Rossant's ancestor)

Rossant's parents met in Paris at a wedding. Her father, who was ill for much of his life, returned with his family to Egypt for warmer weather.[1]

She comes from both Sephardic and Ashkenazi families:

  • Sephardic line: According to her first memoir, the Sephardic Palacci side of her family left Spain after the Alhambra Decree, moved to Italy, and then moved to Istanbul. There, an ancestor became a major domo in the Ottoman army. During an Ottoman invasion of Egypt [probably during Muhammad Ali's seizure of power, counting generations], this great-great-grandfather (unnamed in the memoir) moved from Istanbul to Cairo. In Egypt, he owned lemon perfume factories in Upper Egypt. Her grandfather Vita Palacci was a well-known department store in Cairo and who, "like all his ancestors before him, had traveled to Turkey to find his wife... The eldest son in every generation had gone back to Istanbul to find a wife." Her father (also unnamed in the memoir) worked in exports and imports in support of his father's department store.[1]
  • Ashkenazi line: According to her brother's memoir, the Ashkenazi branch came from Eastern Europe. Her maternal grandfather, "James Bémant," was born "Shlomo Beiman" in what is now Belarus. Her maternal grandmother, "Rose Bémant," was born "Esther Rosenberg" in what is now Poland. James' father was a part-time colporteur and pêcheur with nine children. Rose's father was an épicier who became "rich" and had seven children. James and Rose Bémant had two children, Marceline and Charles. Marceline studied at finishing school in Brighton, UK.[13]



  • The World in My Kitchen (Atria 2006); Madeleines in Manhattan (Bloomsbury 2008)
  • Return to Paris (Atria, 2003); Return to Paris (Bloomsbury 2004); Retour a Paris (Editions les Deux Terres 2009)
  • Apricots on the Nile (Atria 2004); originally Memories of a Lost Egypt (Clarkson Potter 1999); Apricots on the Nile (Bloomsbury 2002); Mémoires d'une Egypte perdue (Editions les Deux Terres 2009; Tadi Damagimda Kalan Ülke: Misir (Oğlak Yayınları 2000); Mein Kairo (Scherz 2002); Abrikozen langs de Nijl (Uitgeverij Sirene 2003); Sárgabarackok a Níluson (Ulpius-Ház 2004)


  • Vegetables: Growing, Cooking, Keeping, with Marianne Melendez (Viking Studio Books, 1991)
  • New Kosher Cooking (Arbor House, 1986)
  • Colette's Japanese Cuisine (Kodansha America 1985), introduced by Calvin Trillin
  • Colette's Slim Cuisine (William Morrow 1983)
  • A Mostly French Food Processor Cookbook (William Morrow 1983) with Jill Harris Herman
  • Colette Rossant's After Five Gourmet (Random House 1981)
  • Cooking with Colette, edited by Lorraine Davis (Scribners 1975)


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Rossant, Colette (2004). Apricots on the Nile. Atria. pp. 32 (family origin). ISBN 0-609-60150-4.
  2. ^ Rossant, Colette (2003). Return to Paris. Atria. ISBN 0-7434-3967-8.
  3. ^ Rossant, Colette (2006). The World in My Kitchen. Atria. ISBN 0-7434-9028-2.
  4. ^ Fabricant, Florence (August 9, 1995). "Food Notes". The New York Times. Retrieved May 3, 2010.
  5. ^ Grimes, William (January 3, 2001). "It's Chinese, Baby, but Not So Squaresville". The New York Times. Retrieved May 3, 2010.
  6. ^ Grimes, William (December 18, 2009). "James Rossant, Architect and Planner, Dies at 81". The New York Times. Retrieved May 3, 2010.
  7. ^ "Municipales 2008 Condeau Orne (61): resultats au 13/03/08". Retrieved May 3, 2010.
  8. ^ "Colette Rossant author archive". Super Chef. Retrieved January 18, 2011.
  9. ^ "Colette Rossant author archive". Food Arts. Retrieved January 18, 2011.
  10. ^ "Prix Eugenie Brazier to Colette Rossant". Super Chef. November 29, 2010. Retrieved January 15, 2011.
  11. ^ "Another Way of Living: The Story of Reston, VA". IMDB. Retrieved 4 October 2016.
  12. ^ "Another Way of Living: The Story of Reston, VA" (PDF). Another Way of Living: official site. 2015. Retrieved 4 October 2016.
  13. ^ Palacci, Eddy (2012). Des étoiles par cœur. Elzevir. p. 29. Retrieved 13 September 2016.

External links[edit]