Sheila Lukins, renowned cook book author and an alumna of the Steinhardt School (Art Education, BS ’70), died on August 30, 2009.The cause was brain cancer.
Lukins, who was honored at Steinhardt’s 2008 Baccalaureate Ceremony with a Distinguished Alumnae Award, was a chef, food writing, and cooking teacher whose book, The Silver Palate Cookbook, was one of the top ten bestselling cookbooks of all times. Among her seven books are, The Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook, Celebrate!, All Around the World Cookbook, and USA Cookbook. There are more than 6.5 million copies of her books in print.
Since 1986, Lukins served as the food editor of Parade magazine, which has a circulation of more than 83 million people each month. She lectured and demonstrated cooking throughout the United States, appeared on national television many times, and was a contributor to all major food publications.
In her address to Steinhardt graduates in 2008, Lukins described an education that began in challenging times, the 1970s’ student riots. “Because I was in the art department, I was asked to sew a tattered flag which flew over the school.” She used her artistic savvy and the skills she honed in her own kitchen to carve a striking place for herself in the culinary world. In 1992, Lukins was inducted into the James Beard Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America, and The Silver Palate Cookbook was named to the James Beard Foundation’s Cookbook Hall of Fame. She also received the New York Association of Cooking Teachers Life Achievement Award.
“It’s hard to explain how important her contribution was to American cooking, but Sheila is right up there with the greatest,” said Marion Nestle, noted food authority and Steinhardt’s Paulette Goddard Professor Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health. “Sheila showed us how easy it was to make interesting and great food, and quickly. She was quirky and funny and a great character. I will miss her.”