HHA# 00717 Page 1 of 2
Interviewee: Pope, Monica
Interview Date: November 4, 2010
University of Houston 1 Houston History Archives
Selected Secondary Sources
Alter, Judy. Great Texas Chefs. Fort Worth, Texas: TCU Press, 2008.
This work highlights some of the recent great chefs of Texas. Although largely focused on male chefs in the Dallas area, at least two women are also included. The first, Chef Helen Corbitt, like Pope, was not a Texas native. The second, Chef Terry Thompson-Anderson, is a cookbook writer, lecturer, and teacher. Each of these women’s experiences is helpful to understand Monica Pope’s culinary career within the context of the larger culinary experience of women. Neither Corbitt nor Thompson-Anderson planned on becoming professional chefs and for Thompson-Anderson, cooking was not even a large part of her childhood. As Texas chefs, it is interesting to compare their experiences with those of Pope.
Cooper, Ann. “A Women’s Place is in the Kitchen:” The Evolution of Women Chefs. New York:
Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1998.
Ann Cooper is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America. In this book, she outlined the history of professional cooking, with an emphasis on the past, present, and future experiences of female chefs. She covered both personal and professional issues that women face in the field and incorporated survey answers and interviews from dozens of professional women and young female students. This work helps to place Pope’s experience within the larger context of professional women today. With an emphasis on women’s experiences, the book covers issues such as maintaining relationships, dealing with sexual harassment, and the differences between men and women as chefs and managers, and how the two groups view success differently. Cooper designed the work to be a calling to female (and male) chefs, to encourage them to fight for changes in the culinary system that will benefit the lives and work of everyone involved, including fairer wages and working hours.
Flinn, Kathleen. The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry: Love, Laughter, and Tears at the
World’s Most Famous Cooking School. New York: Viking, 2007.
Kathleen Flinn is a journalist who attended Le Cordon Bleu in Paris from 2004-2005. Although she did not go on to become a chef, her experiences at Le Cordon Bleu can be used to contextualize our understanding of Pope’s time as a culinary student in Europe. As a journalist, Flinn kept meticulous notes of her daily experiences while a student, thus increasing the value of her work to those who are trying to understand what it is like to be a student at one of Europe’s top competitive culinary schools. In the memoir, Flinn discussed the passion of her fellow students, the high standards of the instructors, the rigor of the daily work, and the growing number of female students in the academy. While she rarely touched upon the differences between her experience and that of male students, she did note that the bulky male uniforms that everyone had to wear masked women’s femininity.
Hughes, Holly, ed. Best Food Writing – 2003. New York: Marlowe & Company, 2003.
This is the fourth in a series of food writing compilations that incorporate recent articles from chefs, restaurateurs, food writers, and enthusiastic food lovers. The articles come from a HHA# 00717 Page 2 of 2
Interviewee: Pope, Monica
Interview Date: November 4, 2010
University of Houston 2 Houston History Archives
wide range of sources, including newspapers, such as The New York Times, magazines, such as Gourmet, and more recently, from little known food blogs as well. The articles are informative and shed light on many of the hopes, aspirations, and realities faced by female chefs. In this edition, Chef Gabrielle Hamilton discussed the restaurant she thought she was creating, compared to the restaurant she actually did create. Issues raised include those of local community and the customer/restaurant relationship. Hamilton also discussed her fear of food critics, as well as how she developed a good working relationship with her staff.
Hughes, Holly, ed. Best Food Writing – 2005. New York: Marlowe & Company, 2005.
In this edition, Chef Emily Kaiser wrote about her experiences as a personal chef in Europe. Like Kaiser, Pope spent time in Europe, and I believe that Kaiser’s experience can be used as a good comparison to Pope’s.
McNamee, Thomas. Alice Waters & Chez Panisse: The Romantic, Impractical, Often Eccentric,
Ultimately Brilliant Making of a Food Revolution. New York: The Penguin Press, 2007.
In this work, Thomas McNamee provides an authorized biography of Alice Waters and her world famous restaurant Chez Panisse. Waters is the recognized leader of the eat local movement within the United States. Her life and accomplishments are informative for all those who followed her in the eat locally campaign, including Pope. The biography focuses on the struggles Waters faced as she tried to balance good, locally grown food based meals with reasonable prices. Her relationship to the restaurant is another central theme of the book, as the work is really almost a joint biography of the two. Again, European influences are central to the work of Waters, just as they are with so many other young chefs. As a leader of Houston’s eat local movement, it is interesting to see how Pope’s experiences and influences differed from Waters, who was based out of California.
Nabhan, Gary Paul. Coming Home to Eat: The Pleasures and Politics of Local Foods.
New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2002.
Gary Paul Nabhan is a Southwest food activist who encourages people to eat locally to reconnect to their roots. Although not a chef, his writings are useful for this project, because they help to put Pope’s local food activism into a larger perspective. While my interview with Pope does not focus on her food activism and the local farmer’s market, I am sure they were influenced by her earlier experiences in the culinary world and thus some context will be helpful. In the work, Nabhan details an entire year of his life, in which he only ate foods that grew and lived locally. For him, like many others who are passionate about food, his earliest memories are connected to the taste and smells of food, in particular local food and flavors, that he could not find or connect to anywhere else. Thus, eating locally not only reconnected him to his physical area, but to his past as well.