As we perused the most recent issue of Cherry Bombe Magazine this weekend, we came across a beautiful article written by Sara B. Franklin. She visited editor, food icon and Senior Vice President of Alfred A. Knopf, Judith Jones. We were fascinated by Judith’s incredible journey, passionately pursuing dreams and becoming a literary pioneer!
Judith was born and raised in New York City and attended Bennington College in Vermont. After graduation, Judith moved back to New York but was troubled by the lifestyle expected of her: a wealthy husband, social appearances and household duties. In 1943, she headed to Europe for a three week exploration of Italy and France. In Paris, she fell in love; with small glasses of red wine in the afternoon, fresh loaves of crunchy bread in the morning and the city-wide passion for food, dining, recipes and eating. In one of those fairytale turn of events, her purse (containing her airline ticket) was stolen just days before she was due to go home. Judith took this unfortunate event as a gift. Now she could stay in the city of her dreams. She met an American journalist, Evan Jones, became his assistant, and fell in love. After a short while, she became a secretary at the Paris branch of Doubleday’s Publishing office. Whilst she was sifting through rejected manuscripts, she came across a copy of Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl. She persuaded Doubleday to pass it on to the New York office and managed to help get it published in 1952.
After marrying, Evan and Judith decided to move back to New York. Here, Judith hooked up with the Knopf publishing company and began her career as a Junior Editor. After two years at Knopf, she discovered a manuscript called The Art of French Cooking by three unknown authors; Julia Child, Simone Beck and Louisette Bethole. Inspired and excited to see the food, recipes and culinary culture she had found in Paris in a book so cleverly and clearly written for Americans, Judith (once again) pushed and persuaded Knopf to publish.
Judith and Evan stayed married until his death in 1996. Today, she shares her time between her home in Northern Vermont and on the Upper East Side. She is still at Knopf and has worked with the likes of James Beard, Marion Cunningham, Jacques Pépin and John Updike. She has authored five books, three with her husband and two on her own. She has written for Saveur, Gourmet and Vogue. In 2006, she was awarded the James Beard Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award.
“Other creatures receive food simply as fodder. But we take the raw materials of the earth and work with them—touch them, manipulate them, taste them, glory in their heady smells and colors, and then, through a bit of alchemy, transform them into delicious creations.”