National Museum of American History Acquires Marcella Hazan Culinary Tools

2024 Marks the Centennial of Influential Chef Who Taught America To Cook Italian

Marcella Hazan, photo courtesy of Victor Hazan

Marking the centennial of Marcella Hazan’s (1924–2013) birth, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History has received a donation from the family of the influential cookbook author and legendary teacher of regional Italian cuisine in the United States and United Kingdom. Hazan is widely known for her six cookbooks on the cuisines of Italy, published between 1973 and 2004. Her husband Victor Hazan, an authority on Italian food and wine, and son Giuliano, a chef and cooking teacher, donated 20 of her specialized Italian cooking tools, including a passatelli press, garganelli pasta comb, a mattarello for rolling out pasta, her wood cutting board, lasagna pan and her cotton apron to the museum’s food history collections. The donation also includes a selection of her recipe notebooks, written in Italian, that will be housed in the museum’s Archives Center. 

“As the nation’s flagship history museum, home to the beloved Julia Child’s kitchen, we explore and share the wonderfully vast and complicated intersections of history and food,” said Anthea M. Hartig, the museum’s Elizabeth MacMillan Director. “Understanding the richness of our culinary traditions alongside the complexities of the nation’s past helps us make sense of contemporary experiences and enables us to move forward and create a better shared future.”

“Through her popular books, Marcella Hazan introduced American and British cooks to a wide range of ingredients, culinary techniques and regional dishes at a time when many in the U.S. had no understanding of the diversity of Italian cuisines,” said museum curator Paula Johnson. “Her story is one of diligence and excellence, and we are thrilled that her legacy will be preserved in our national collections through these objects.” 

“We are elated that Marcella’s life work, her tools, her recipes, notes and books have found a home in the permanent collections at the Smithsonian,“ Victor Hazan said. “Some of the tools that were knocking about Marcella’s kitchen had also knocked about her mother’s kitchen, and previously, in her grandmother’s, but as Marcella said the best kitchen tools are a cook’s hands, which was a bold statement from a woman whose right hand became deformed and limited in use after a childhood accident.”

Hazan’s cooking style was influenced by her upbringing in the fishing village of Cesenatico, Italy. The produce from her family’s garden and fresh fish inspired her lifelong quest for fresh ingredients while she also practiced the Italian style of simple, efficient approaches to cooking and eating. Hazan immigrated to the United States with her husband in 1955, and they made their home in New York City where she opened a small cooking school in her apartment in 1969 and published her first cookbook, The Classic Italian Cookbook, in 1973. Through her cookbooks, she introduced readers to the structure of the traditional Italian meal and to dishes and techniques largely unknown outside of Italy; she used ingredients such as balsamic vinegar and pesto and explained how to make fresh pasta. Hazan was the recipient of numerous awards, including the International Association of Culinary Professionals Lifetime Achievement Award (2004), Cavaliere della Stella della Solidarietà Italiana Award (2003) and the James Beard Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award (2000).

About the Museum
Through incomparable collections, rigorous research and dynamic public outreach, the National Museum of American History seeks to empower people to create a more just and compassionate future by examining, preserving and sharing the complexity of our past. The museum, located on Constitution Avenue N.W., between 12th and 14th streets, is open daily except Dec. 25, between 10 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Admission is free. The doors of the museum are always open online and the virtual museum continues to expand its offerings, including online exhibitions, PK–12 educational materials and programs. The public can follow the museum on social media on Instagram and Facebook. For more information, go to https://americanhistory.si.edu. For Smithsonian information, the public may call (202) 633-1000.
 

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Media only:

Valeska Hilbig    
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hilbigv@si.edu

Melinda Machado    
(202) 633-3129 (o)
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SI-138-2024