The news of Sheila Lukins' death on Sunday from brain cancer (Michael Y. Park wrote a lovely appreciation on the Epi-Log at Epicurious this morning) has left all of us without one of the most influential cooks of the later half of the 20th century. With her book, The Silver Palate Cookbook, co-written with Julee Rosso, Lukins inspired legions of home cooks in the 1980's to re-imagine the way that they think about food and the way that they make it.
Influences could come from all over the world and the boring fare of the nightly dinner could instead blast out the flavor and transform the ordinary with just the addition of a couple of "exotic" (garlic, saffron, herbs) ingredients. Freshness--fresh vegetables, fresh herbs and a fresh approach--provided the new foundation Lukins wanted all of us to build upon.
I wrote an appreciation of The Silver Palate a few years ago (here's a link), and to this day, she remains, along with Julia Child, one of the most important reasons that I do what I do: cook, eat and write about the food I love.