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The Tomato Queen of San Joaquin, with Ken Albala / Culinary Historians of New York
Horticultural Society of New York
New York, NY
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The Tomato Queen of San Joaquin, with Ken Albala / Culinary Historians of New York
Tillie Lewis, a Brooklyn-born girl of Jewish extraction, managed to get funding to start a tomato processing plant in California from wealthy Italians connected to Mussolini just before World War II broke out. She left her husband, started the company herself in Stockton, California, and through trials and tribulations built the business into one of the most important packing operations in the country. She supplied K-rations in WWII, designed the first line of diet foods using fruits sweetened with saccharine, and was voted businesswoman of the year. After her retirement, corporate giants bought the company and ran it into the ground. Tillie's is an "only in America" story with many surprises and twists.

Ken Albala, also a Jewish, Brooklyn-born transplant to Stockton, has been researching Tillie's life in a repository about 500 paces from his house. What was once Tillie's own house is about five blocks away. Ken is also a professor of history at the University of the Pacific in Stockton and the author of several books of culinary history, including "Eating Right in the Renaissance," "Food in Early Modern Europe," "Cooking in Europe 1250-1650," and "Beans," winner of IACP's 2008 Jane Grigson Award. This presentation will outline a remarkable life, which will be chronicled in a book on the subject co-authored with colleague Edie Sparks.

The Horticultural Society of New York
148 West 37th Street, 13th Floor (between Seventh Avenue and Broadway)
New York, NY  10018

Time: 6:30 pm Check-In and Reception | 7:00 pm Lecture

Fee: $40 Non-Members and Guests | $25 CHNY Members | $22 CHNY Student & Senior Members

Please buy tickets here by November 15th - click the Begin Order button at the top right

Save the dates:

November 18: Book party at the National Arts Club to celebrate the inauguration of Reaktion Books "Edible Series"

December 9: "Milk" with CHNY member Anne Mendelson at the National Arts Club


Horticultural Society of New York
148 West 37th Street
New York, NY 10018
United States



Kid Friendly: No
Dog Friendly: No
Non-Smoking: No
Wheelchair Accessible: No


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