When Mary Chamberlin wraps up a conversation with “those are some of the things that keep me busy,” the retired chef and cooking instructor has already entertained you for a time.
A Carmel resident, Chamberlin remains involved in the local chapters of food-related organizations, including Les Dames d’Escoffier and the American Institutes of Food and Wine. The groups educate children through the Days of Taste program and raise money for scholarships. Chamberlin also wrote the recipe book The Traveling Soup Pot and has a new one coming out called The Traveling Cook Book.
Weekly: Explain the importance of Auguste Escoffier.
Chamberlin: He realized that no one kept recipes except the chef. He sat down and decided to record every French recipe – I don’t know how many thousands. It’s there forever. Because of him, the basics are there.
Why a book about soup?
Soup makes a lot of friends. I got so many turn-downs with this book that I decided to self-publish. I don’t think people understood the importance of soup. It’s now in its fourth printing. Every time I take a trip I add to the book. You go around the world in soup.
What have you learned from your culinary travels?
I learned to respect what has gone before and what will be the future of food. Some of these new recipes chefs create are delicious, but they couldn’t have done it without what came before.
Any programs you’re most proud of?
We do a wonderful program for third – and fourth-grade students about eggs that’s become one of the best things we’ve ever done. They understand the importance of eggs. At harvest time we bring in fruits and vegetables and have the kids identify them. When we raise funds it’s all for scholarships to local students. That’s the way it should be.