Simone Beck

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Simone "Simca" Beck (7 July 1904 in Normandy, France – 20 December 1991) was a French cookbook author and cooking teacher who, along with colleagues Julia Child and Louisette Bertholle, played a significant role in the introduction of French cooking technique and recipes into American kitchens.[1]

Early life[edit]

She was born in on July 7, 1904, in Tocqueville-en-Caux, near Dieppe in Normandy. Her family was rich because they had a business in production of Benedictine liqueur.[2] When she was little, she liked helping her family cook to prepare desserts or entire meals. She spent some years learning bookbinding and being a sales representative, where she meet her second husband, but following Beck's career was devoted to food. In 1933, at the end of her marriage with Jacques Jarlaud, she applied for Le Cordon Bleu school in Paris. In 1937 she married Jean Victor Fischbacher, keeping her maiden name as a nom de plume and professionally, but using her husband's name socially.[3]

Cooking career[edit]

The start of Beck's professional career as a cook and teacher was after World War II, and after joining the Le Cercle des Gourmettes, an exclusive women's culinary club. She became involved in the world of cooking. She was inspired to write a cookbook for Americans by Louisette Bertholle and her husband.

The first attempt at writing a cookbook wasn't successful, so Beck and Bertholle published the brief What's Cooking in France? in 1952. After that they published a booklet Le pruneau devant le fourneau: Recettes de cuisine (ca. 1952), Beck's only publication in French (for a copy, see Avis DeVoto Papers, A-167, #36). In 1949, after she had met Julia Child, she became inspired to write a French cookbook for Americans again. She, Child, and Bertholle together wrote Mastering the Art of French Cooking, which was published in 1961. Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. II (without Louisette Bertholle) followed in 1970, elaborating on several subjects (particularly baking and charcuterie) that the authors felt had received insufficient coverage in the first volume.

Both Bertholle and Child became members of the Cercle des Gourmettes. After 3 years women formed l'École des trois gourmandes to give lessons in French cooking to American women who lived in Paris. This school had been working up to the late 1970s. While Child became a successful television chef in the United States, Beck continued her teaching practice at home. In 1972 she published her own cookbook, Simca's Cuisine (with Patricia Simon), using some of the recipes that had not been mentioned in her previous books with Child and Bertholle. In 1979, she published the second volume, New Menus from Simca's Cuisine, with Michael James, who was her student, friend, and assistant since 1970s. Food and Friends: Recipes and Memories from Simca's Cuisine, her autobiography and last cookbook (with Suzy Patterson), was published in 1991, the year she died.

She is played by American actress Linda Emond in the 2009 film Julie & Julia. [3]



  1. ^ Trish Hall, "Simone Beck, a Cook, Dies at 87; Co-Wrote Book With Julia Child", New York Times, 21 December 1991.
  2. ^ "Simone Beck, a Cook, Dies at 87; Co-Wrote Book With Julia Child". The New York Times. 21 December 1991.
  3. ^ a b "Beck, Simone, 1904-1991. Papers of Simone Beck, 1920-1993: A Finding Aid".

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