Culinary historians are trailblazers who have shaped a new way of studying both daily life and the critical, larger issues that have confronted societies as a whole. Working at the intersection of the practical and the academic, they explore food, cookery, and dining cultures by drawing on the strengths of an array more traditional disciplines, whether in the hard sciences, social sciences, or humanities. They ask and answer such fundamental questions as who gets to eat, what they get to eat, how foods have been distributed within societies (justly or not), and why these patterns exist. The best culinary historians propel change by virtue of contextualizing the role of food in cultures; they provide tools for understanding the past and improving the present and future.
CHNY created the Amelia Award (named after Amelia Simmons, who in 1796 authored the first cookbook written in America) to acknowledge leading experts in culinary history who have demonstrated generosity and extraordinary support to others in the field.
Work at this high echelon deserves recognition, which is why CHNY created the Amelia Award. Named after Amelia Simmons, who authored the first cookbook written in America, American Cookery. . . adapted to this country and all grades of life (1796). Miss Simmons herself was a change-maker. Describing herself as an orphan, she sought to give women who needed to support themselves the tools to find respectable employment as cooks and housekeepers through her small book, what Miss Simmons called “a virtuous character.” Her work was “calculated for the improvement of the rising generation of Females in America.” It is in this spirit (albeit that we are gender-blind) that CHNY awards the Amelia.
Two qualities distinguish all recipients of the Amelia Award: first, they are leading experts in culinary history, with deep knowledge in the field. And second, even more importantly, they have demonstrated generosity and extraordinary support to others in the field, helping to shape and elevate culinary history into the academically-respected discipline that it is today.