The Culinary Luminaries series of panel discussions at the New School University in New York City celebrates crucial figures of the past and present world of food and gastronomy. James Beard, Julia Child, M.F.K. Fisher, Craig Claiborne, Joseph Baum, Clementine Paddleford, Pellegrino Artusi, and Michael Batterberry are among those whose contributions have been explored. The series is sponsored by the Food Studies Program at The New School for Public Engagement. Fabio Parasecoli, Associate Professor of Food Studies is the head of the program.
Last Fall I attended the program on Pellegrino Artusi (Michele was on the panel) and enjoyed it very much. After the event, Professor Parasecoli asked me if I would like to be part of a panel on Robert Mondavi. I told him it would be an honor.
Robert Mondavi, Culinary Luminary
The panel considered wine and its role in U.S. culinary culture through a discussion of the life and work of Robert Mondavi, the pioneering Napa Valley vintner. Mondavi championed fine wine as an integral part of the good life in any country. The speakers explored his decisions as a producer, his marketing practices, his international collaborations and global influence, and related cultural and economic issues
Panelists: Tyler Colman, author of Wine Politics; Frank J. Prial, former New York Times wine columnist; Charles Scicolone, wine writer and wine consultant; and Julia Flynn Siler, author of the bestselling The House of Mondavi: The Rise and Fall of an American Wine Dynasty. Culinary historian and New School faculty member Andrew F. Smith moderates.
The first speaker was Ms. Siler and she spoke about the Mondavi family and how poor business decisions led to their downfall. She also said the no one from the Mondavi family would speak to her about her book.
Tyler Colman spoke about food friendly, estate wines in California through the lens of Robert Mondavi’s legacy.
Frank Prial spoke about his first meeting with Robert Mondavi in the early 1970’s.
I spoke about California wine in general, Robert Mondavi’s contribution to wine and his worldwide influence on wine. I also said that what Julia Child did for food in this country, Robert Mondavi did for wine.