The Picayune’s Creole Cook Book
Re-creating this enchanting 1901 cookbook to celebrate The Times-Picayune newspaper’s sesquicentennial was a highlight of my career. Over the course of this nine-month project, I spent hours poring through vintage photographs at the newspaper and the New Orleans Museum of Art, studying Newcomb Pottery, and haunting antique shops for props for the chapter heading photographs I created for the book. This was a perfect project for me, allowing me to combine my love of cooking and antiques to re-create this incredible document of New Orleans’ culinary history.
— Wendi Schneider
- The Picayune’s Creole Cook Book
- Design, art direction, production, editing, cover and chapter heading photographs: Wendi Schneider
- Project coordinator: Linda Dennery
- Editing and Compilation: Marcelle Bienvenu
- Hardcover, 10 x 7 inches, 629 pages
- Published by The Times-Picayune, 1987 and Random House, 1989
$51.50 including shipping
The definitive cookbook of original Creole recipes of New Orleans, The Picayune’s Creole Cook Book was originally published in 1901 to “preserve for posterity the secrets of Creole cookery and to insure a Creole heritage for future generations.” For the 150th anniversary of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, a reissue was planned that would faithfully and lovingly reproduce the 800-plus recipes from the original text with updates for today’s cooks. Wendi Schneider was assigned to manage the design and production of the book. Wendi uncovered timeless images from the period, hidden for generations in the archives of The Times-Picayune, as well as rare images from the collections of the New Orleans Museum of Art, and renowned turn-of-the-century Arts & Crafts pottery from the Newcomb Pottery Collection, to be reproduced for the book. Under Schneider’s art direction, the book was illustrated with beautiful period and period-inspired photographs and drawings in 629 splendid pages, for which The New York Art Director’s Club awarded her a Certificate of Merit.
As the old Creole cooks were passing on at the end of the 1800s, The Picayune newspaper published the definitive collection of Creole recipes in the 1901 Picayune’s Creole Cook Book. Original copies of this cookbook have been passed down from generation to generation, and referred to by Creole chefs at home and in the finest restaurants in New Orleans. In 1986, the newspaper, under the direction of project manager Linda Dennery, engaged noted food writer and chef Marcelle Bienvenu and photographer/designer Wendi Schneider to recreate The Picayune’s Creole Cook Book.
The staff sorted through more than a thousand recipes, with an eye toward Creole classics and enduring favorites, especially those that captured the flavor of times gone by. After testing and tasting, researching and retesting, they selected the 800-plus recipes that appear in this volume, from Creole coffee to custards, Jambalaya to Red Beans and Rice, making careful notes of modern measurements and methods, substitutes and suggestions. For ease of use and to preserve the charm of the original text, these updates appear in the margins, and the result is an entertaining and practical volume that is as gratifying to read as it is to cook from. The photographs and drawings that grace its pages are an added pleasure.
Several editions of The Picayune’s Creole Cook Book were published in the 1900s, with the text rewritten to reflect the taste of the era. For the Sesquicentennial Edition, the editorial staff chose to preserve the text of the definitive second edition published in 1901, which was an expansion of the first edition. Later editions were published in 1906, 1916, 1922, 1928, 1936, 1938, 1942, 1945, 1947, 1954, 1966 and 1971. Published as the Sesquicentennial Edition in 1987, Random House re-published this edition with a new jacket design by Schneider in 1989.