Doctor Eclectic

Doctor Eclectic
Doctor Eclectic

Monday, March 11, 2013


I have been invited to speak to a rather unusual Book Group about an organization I belong to, The American Institute of Wine and Food.  The attraction to me by the group was because they pick one book a year and invite speakers on related topics to address the group at monthly meetings.  This year’s book is Dearie by Bob Spitz.

Mr.Spitz’ genre is biographies.  He has written previous books, one even about The Beatles, but chose for this book a friend he had written about and with for several years before her death, the birth of which was celebrated last year as a 100th anniversary: Julia Child.

Julia - Richard - Robert
Among her many and varied accomplishments, Julia was one of three founders of the AIWF in 1981, along with Richard Graff, who had recently bought Chalone Winery and Robert Mondavi, who was defining the American wine industry.  Northern California at the time was an absolute incubator for change in the food and wine industry.  The three had in mind improving and defining the food and wine culture by supporting two charities: the first, called Days of Taste ® was a program designed to teach fourth and fifth grade children from limited social strata the path of foods from farm to table and in the course of learning that, develop a sense of how taste fits in to the process.  The second was a scholarship program, initially supporting students in the Culinary Institute of America, just then moving from its core base in New York to a branch at St. Helena in California and an educational marriage of food and wine.

Days of Taste grew out of several programs with the same end in mind.  Julia had a cooperative effort with the Dairy industry in California, but the current program owes more to a program developed by the New York Chapter of AIWF, which now has a fantastic website promoting its programs.

The Book Group found my name because through persistence or survival, I am the current Chair of the Orange County (California) Chapter of the national AIWF organization and was the closest Chapter to the library the Book Group uses for their meetings.

Harnessing a Heritage
By Dee FitzGerald
Besides the opportunity to speak on a topic I feel strongly about, I was attracted because the 50 or so people expected read books and I am always looking for an audience for my book: Harnessing a Heritage beyond those who read the first chapter at my website

I have been doing some research on what role Julia played in AIWF. In the early years it was mostly supportive of the organization by her name and contacts.  Even in Orange County at the peak of membership we would raise $20,000 for the charities by wine, food and auction events, some at the Mondavi Center.  And national AIWF enjoyed large donations from the Mondavi Family.  Other corporations or individuals proudly donated $5,000 to be a member of the Julia Child Circle.
Unfortunately those events are not as well supported today and we are looking for sponsors for the charities as well as other revenue streams to support them.  How successful we will be remains an open question.

No one doubts their value, but competition for their support is brutal.

Those of you who saw the Academy Awards will remember the “50 Years of Bond” segment.  In my next post I’ll recollect how Bond has been in my life for all of those fifty years.  I hope for your eyes.

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