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Culinary giant cooks for Charlestown

Judith Jones demonstrates The Pleasures of Cooking for One

Created date

March 23rd, 2010

The adage ask and you shall receive never rang more true for Vinson Bankoski than when he asked Judith Jones legendary Julia Child editor and author of The Pleasures [caption id="attachment_8946" align="alignright" width="280" caption="Judith Jones and Charlestown s Director of Dining Services Vinson Bankoski trade stories as they whip up a cheese souffl from The Pleasures of Cooking for One. (Photo by Jeffrey Getek)"][/caption] of Cooking for One to host a cooking demonstration. I had been thinking about a cooking class for singles since 2003, says Bankoski, director of dining services at Charlestown. Then I read an article about Judith Jones new book and my initiative was sparked once again. After a series of e-mails and phone calls, Bankoski received word through Jones publicist that she was intrigued by his proposition. Once I received confirmation that Judith was interested, I bought everything Judith I could get my hands on! says Bankoski. I already had a 1961 6th edition of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume I and Volume II, and multiple other Julia Child books. A few weeks later, on a windy day in February, Jones hopped the train from her Upper East Side Manhattan apartment to Baltimore s Penn Station. Once she arrived at Charlestown in Catonsville, she and Bankoski prepared selections from her book like fish cakes, souffl , and butterscotch cookies in front of nearly 200 excited foodies. It was clear that Judith is not only a great writer but an accomplished culinarian, says Bankoski. Not only does she share excellent virgin recipes, but what distinguishes her book is that she offers what she calls seconds and thirds ideas on how to transform leftovers into something enjoyable. Bon app tit! Marie Deemer, who has lived at Charlestown for the last 14 years, was one of the lucky tasters flanking Jones on the stage as she mixed, whipped, and baked. The food was fantastic! says Deemer. The fish cakes were so light and airy I ve never eaten anything like them. Deemer usually cooks a Sunday night dinner for friends or family in her apartment home at Charlestown. One of those recent dinners was Child s recipe for duck a l orange. Another taster, Charlestown resident and Dining Committee member Albert Schlueter, was impressed with the souffl . Souffl s are very hard to make, he says. When it came out, it looked just like the picture on the front of the book! It was nice and crunchy on the outside and soft and tasty on the inside. Schlueter enjoys cooking and even belongs to a monthly gourmet cooking club through his church. We get together once a month and cook different dishes. We try everything from Italian, French, American whatever we re in the mood for, he says. It s a great way to get a feel for all different kinds of food. Food for thought Throughout the cooking demonstration, Jones answered questions from the audience like where she shops for groceries and whether she uses a microwave and reminisced about her days working with Child on Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I remember we went back and forth about the title, says Jones. We originally discussed calling it Master the Art of French Cooking. Then I suggested mastering so it s the continuous process, instead of master, which suggests an end. I got back this joyous letter from Julia saying, That s it! This is it! And I love the gerund! I laughed because that was just like Julia most people didn t even know what a gerund was. I remember Alfred Knopf saying, I ll eat my hat if a book with that title sells. Well let me tell you, he ate a lot of hats, she jokes. After the demo, Bankoski presented Jones with a Charlestown chef s coat embroidered with Jones name over the left breast pocket and under her name, the title Chef. She held the jacket and paused, then looked up at me with the most genuine expression of gratitude and said, No one has ever given me a chef s jacket before, he recalls. Moments later, before she went off to engage in book signing, she said, Take good care of that for me! And in that moment, I imagined that her life had been largely spent in a supporting role of culinary greats. But in our living room [Charlestown s conference center], on this day, she was the culinary great.