The James Beard Foundation is saddened to hear of the death of Barbara Kafka, food world legend, prolific cookbook author, and dear friend of our namesake James Beard. Kafka started her culinary career as an assistant to James Beard, and when he died, she created the James Beard Celebration cookbook and donated the advance from the publisher to help found the James Beard Foundation.
“The food world has lost a strong, definitive, unequivocal voice about taste and quality with the loss of Barbara Kafka,’” said Mitchell Davis, executive vice president of the James Beard Foundation. “Through her work in restaurants, her books and columns, her openness to new technologies, and her love of good food, she helped shape the way we eat and laid the groundwork for the great American food revolution of which we are the fortunate beneficiaries.”
An eight-time Beard Award winner, Barbara's most recent award was when she was inducted into the JBF Awards Cookbook Hall of Fame in 2015. Writer Naomi Duguid wrote this tribute to Barbara for our 2015 Awards program.