Archive for September, 2014

Postal Service Stamps Recognize Food Industry Pioneers

Monday, September 29th, 2014

The U.S. Postal Service issued today its first stamps highlighting pioneers in the food industry.

The Celebrity Chefs Forever Stamps feature American cuisine champion James Beard, television cook Julia Child, early Southern food promoter Edna Lewis, Chinese-American chef Joyce Chen and Felipe Rojas-Lombardi, whom the USPS credits with bringing Spanish tapas to the U.S.

“These original ‘celebrity chefs’ were aspirational yet approachable, introducing American palates to new and different flavors from all over the world and feeding our passion for cooking,” the USPS said in promotional materials.

USPS director of stamps Susan McGowan told Nation’s Restaurant News that the chef series was drawn from the thousands of stamp suggestions that Americans mail to her every year. (Suggestions must be mailed in; e-mails are not accepted.)

“We have a Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee who works with us to decide which of the subjects of all the suggestions we would go forward with,” McGowan said.

The committee meets quarterly, and each year around 18 to 20 series are launched.

“So we have to decide truly what’s worth commemorating, what’s really important, what is tapping into the passions and what’s going on in America at a given time. This particular issuance is something that has risen to the top in recent years, and we’re really, really excited,” she said.

Forever Stamps are named because they have no set denomination, but are accepted as correct postage for a first class letter in perpetuity, even as postage rates rise.

The stamps are part of the Best of America series of limited-edition stamps that have also included Jimi Hendrix, Rosa Parks and Janis Joplin, and have commemorated events such as the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington.

The Postal Service credits Beard for being “a passionate advocate for local ingredients, far ahead of his time,” and noted that upon his death his friends established the James Beard Foundation in his honor “to promote excellence in food and beverage.”

One of Beard’s friends was Julia Child, whom the USPS said “demystified French cuisine in the United States through her iconic television shows and cookbooks, giving us the confidence to create challenging dishes in American kitchens.”

The USPS called Edna Lewis “The Grande Dame of Southern Cooking,” who “brought Southern cuisine to the forefront of American palates, while pioneering the importance of fresh, seasonal ingredients.”

Chen is described as “the Queen of Chinese Food in America,” who taught people about the cuisine from her restaurants in Cambridge, Mass., her cookbooks and a television show on the Public Broadcasting Service.

Rojas-Lombardi, who was born in Peru, was the founding chef of specialty foods store Dean & Deluca, and was named America’s Bicentennial chef in 1976, according to the New York Times.

He became executive chef of a New York restaurant and cabaret called the Ballroom in 1982, and began serving tapas there. After those recipes were featured on the PBS series New York’s Master Chef, they were imitated across the country.