Chefs and Writers Honor Diana Kennedy, the Cookbook Author Who “Opened a Window to the Soul of Mexico”
This weekend we lost a culinary legend. Diana Kennedy, the British author known mostly for dedicating her life’s work to documenting and promoting Mexican cuisine, died this weekend at the age of 99.
Kennedy was born in 1923 in Essex, England, and moved to Mexico in the 1950s, where she fell in love with and studied Mexican cuisine. Throughout her decades-long career, Kennedy published nine widely-acclaimed cookbooks. The Cuisines of Mexico is considered by many as one of the world’s foremost records of 20th-century Mexican cuisine. And in 2011 Kennedy was awarded a James Beard award for her book, Oaxaca al Gusto: An Infinite Gastronomy.
Her cookbooks celebrated Mexico’s regional dishes and taught audiences the vastness of the cuisine during a time when people’s familiarity with Mexican food barely extended beyond the taco. Her life was also the subject of a 2019 documentary, Nothing Fancy, which followed the cookbook author’s career.
Writers, publications, chefs, and fans of her cooking took to social media to express the impact that Kennedy’s work had on them. Chef José Andrés shared on Twitter, “She loved Mexico, Mexicans and Mexican cooking like no one! Her books open a window into the soul of Mexico!” And the Cultural Institute of the Embassy of Mexico tweeted that she was, “one of the greatest contemporary researchers and lovers of Mexican cuisine, who knew how to capture and make visible to the world the secrets of our ancestral flavors.”
Friends and fans, from Padma Lakshmi to museums, paid tribute to Kennedy via Twitter.