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National Women’s Hall of Fame includes Julia Child and Alice Waters

Written by Erin Scherer

With the slogan “Showcasing Great Women, inspiring them all,” the National Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls is dedicated to highlighting the accomplishments American women.

“We celebrate them in order to make sure that people can learn the contributions of women who are often left out of history,” says Kate Bennett, the Hall’s vice president. Among the 276 women who have been inducted since its opening in 1969 are two women who have had an influence on American cooking and farm-to-table dining: Julia Child and Alice Waters.

Julia Child published Mastering the Art of French Cooking in 1961, which introduced Americans to an accessible approach to French cooking; her public television show “The French Chef” debuted two years later.

“I came of age watching ‘The French Chef,’” remembers Bennett. “I was a teenager. It was a fabulous cooking show, and really revolutionary.” Because of the show, her many cookbooks and other culinary work, Child was inducted posthumously in 2007 for her contributions to the arts.

Alice Waters was inducted in 2017, and while best known for her groundbreaking restaurant Chez Panisse, in Berkeley, California, and its focus on supporting local farmers and eating with the seasons, in her induction speech Waters chose to emphasize her work with the Edible Schoolyard project, which she launched in 1995 in partnership with a Berkeley middle school. Since its inception, the non-profit organization has transformed children’s relationship with food by connecting them to growing, cooking and enjoying food they produced themselves and is now a global program reaching 75 countries.

“I think about her being an educator,” says Bennett, pointing to Waters’ formative experience in Montessori education in London in the late 1960s. “She wanted to make sure that we respected teachers and farmers, that we create in schools free lunches where the food is so good tasting that it’s irresistible.”

“It’s such an honor,” says Alice Waters of her recent induction. “When I think about what the suffragettes accomplished and how this group was inspired by them, it’s very humbling and really inspiring to be included amongst these women.”

Currently located in a historic bank building, the National Women’s Hall of Fame is scheduled to relocate to the former Seneca Knitting Mill in 2020. Profiles of other Women of the Hall, as inductees are referred to, are available on the website as are listings of upcoming events and other ways to be involved.

76 Fall Street, Seneca Falls, 315.568.8060, womenofthehall.org

Erin Scherer has written about the Finger Lakes food and wine industry for several regional publications. She lives in Geneva.

This article originally appeared in the Fall 2019 Women’s Issue of the magazine.

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