Les Dames d'Escoffier, Ann Arbor
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LDE-AA:  Les Dames d’Escoffier is the only organization of its kind: a world wide philanthropic society of professional women leaders in the fields of food, fine beverage, and hospitality. The Ann Arbor Chapter, LDE-AA, supports the broad mission of LDEI with a diverse group of professional talent and experience.  We are focused on developing scholarships and educational opportunities for women seeking professional expertise in the food, fine beverage, and hospitality fields, especially the emerging movements of the environment, health, and local resourcing in those professions in our multi-cultural community.

DECEMBER 14, 2017, 3:30-6:00, ANN ARBOR CITY CLUB
DIRECT LINK FOR TICKET ORDER:  ldeaa.brownpapertickets.com

The main event will be a fabulous presentation by Dame CiCi Williamson of the D.C.  Les Dames d’Escoffier International (LDEI) Chapter focused on the dining, kitchen, and food (preparation and service) behind the scenes during the filming of the popular Downton Abbey TV series.   CiCi is the author of six cookbooks, a syndicated columnist, past president of the Culinary Historians of Washington D.C., and past president of LDEI.  In addition, she was host of an award-winning PBS-TV show entitled The Best of Virginia Farms.

The event is open to the public and it is a great Holiday event for Ann Arbor Chapter of LDEI (LDE-AA) members and Ann Arbor City Club members to celebrate with friends, family, and colleagues.  In addition, it is a major fundraising project for the scholarship program of LDE-AA which supports women enrolled in our area culinary programs.

Poster on display at the Ann Arbor City Club.  Flyers and other take-aways available at the City Club and elsewhere in Ann Arbor.  Link to poster pdf file.

With many thanks to all of the staff of the Ann Arbor City Club for their patient expertise in event planning and execution, and in particular to:
General Manager:  Greg Fleming
Catering Manager:  Donnie Burton
Dining Room Manager:  Megan Gibson
Executive Chef:  Nathan Ennis
The book you are about to receive as a gift, Cooking à la Cordon Bleu (Harper & Row, 1970) by Alma Lach, was donated to Les Dames d’Escoffier by Sandra Lach Arlinghaus in memory of her mother, Alma, Dame of Distinction (Chicago Chapter).  This work is the predecessor to Alma’s Hows and Whys of French Cooking, University of Chicago Press (1974).  Your book is not only a brand new book, straight from the boxes sent by the publisher to Alma, it also has an interesting history.  Indeed the book is out of print, but it never was in print for long.  Here’s the story, according to Alma.

When Alma entered the Cordon Bleu in Paris in 1949, and again when she graduated with the Grand Diplome in 1956, she and others were told by school officials that the name of ‘Le Cordon Bleu’ was not to appear in the title of any book subsequently written by former students.  Alma set about creating a carefully crafted analysis of the food system she had learned in Paris.  Harper & Row agreed to publish the document.  Together they agreed on the title with ‘a la’ in it instead of ‘le’.  The idea was that in America, folks think of ‘a la’ as meaning ‘in the manner of’ or ‘with’ as in apple pie a la mode.  They believed that then the use of Cordon Bleu, blue ribbon (a common phrase), would transform the name to capture a double entendre with American common parlance rather than using the name of the school itself.  

Cute?  Well, too cute, as it turns out.  After a short period of time, the school found out about it and their attorneys demanded that the book be removed from the market.  Harper & Row became convinced and obliged them.  If you knew Alma, you know that she never became ‘convinced’.  So, Alma personally bought up the original plates and all the remaining hard copies that had been printed—your book is one of those.  

The hard copy books have been stored in unopened printer’s boxes in Alma’s basement in her Chicago apartment since then… through 2016.  Long ago, the plates were turned over to the University of Chicago Press and served as the basis for a new 1974 book, The Hows and Whys of French Cooking.  Thus, the new book is the old book with a changed title and new material added at the end on French regional cuisine.  We hope you enjoy the original document, its history as well as its content! 

Welcome to Les Dames d'Escoffier--Ann Arbor
A non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation in the State of Michigan.

Les Dames d'Escoffier International, www.LDEI.org, home page.

The Ann Arbor Chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier International (LDEI) is an invitation-only membership, composed of 38 individual chapters across the United States, Canada, Mexico, and the United Kingdom; it is highly diversified and reflects the multifaceted fields of contemporary gastronomy and hospitality. For full information about LDEI please see their website; our local website is simply a small addition to this primary website of our parent organization.

Mission Statement of Les Dames d'Escoffier International (LDEI)

LDEI is an invitational organization of women leaders in food, beverage, and hospitality whose mission is education and philanthropy.

Les Dames d'Escoffier is a Member Club of the Ann Arbor City Club, centrally located within Ann Arbor with ample free parking and provision for valet parking for special events.  Naturally, we can also use it as meeting space and event space with catering (for a fee). 



  • Letter from co-Presidents Agranoff and Benjamin, March, 2017.
  • Letter from co-Presidents Agranoff and Benjamin, January, 2017.
  • Letter from co-Presidents Agranoff and Benjamin, November, 2016.
  • Report and display associated with visit to Alma Lach Exhibition:  1, 2.
  • LDEI conference report .  Delegates Benjamin and Tope.

Links to Ongoing and Archived Information Related to Chapter Mission
  • Alma Lach Papers and Culinary Book Collection
    • Permanent collection housed at Special Collections Research Center, Joseph Regenstein Library, University of Chicago.  Summary of 285 images of exhibition
    • Exhibition, "Alma Lach's Kitchen:  Transforming Taste,"  September 19, 2016 to January 6, 2017.
    • Invitation to Special Event:  Ann Arbor Executive Committee of LDEAA invited.  Dames Amort, Arlinghaus, Benjamin, Tope all attended, along with about 10 Dames from the Chicago Chapter (exclusive of Arlinghaus, Benjamin, and Tope who are dual members with Ann Arbor).  In all, there were about 100 guests, many from Chicago but others from elsewhere, too.
    • Link to display from party at Quadrangle Club, November 2, 2016.
    • Photograph below by Marc Monaghan; contact sarhaus@umich.edu for possible access to complete set of Exhibition images.

LDEI Quarterly Submission Guidelines are available in the Quarterly itself and on the LDEI website.

It’s never too early to email your news for the Quarterly.  

Les Dames d'Escoffier, Ann Arbor (LDE-AA)


Copyright 2015 Les Dames d' Escoffier Ann Arbor

Image credits:  Floral images, Alma S. Lach, copyright 1998, and Sandra L. Arlinghaus. Burgundy/green LDE logo created by Alma Lach for the Chicago Chapter (of which she was a founding member) and used here with their permission.  LDEI logo used here, in both original and modified form, with LDEI permission.  Photo of the Ann Arbor City Club reprinted here with permission of the copyright holder.  Globe image, Google Earth (TM)

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