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Chef Fritz Blank Culinary Archive and Library

The Chef Fritz Blank Culinary Archive and Library is a major resource for the study of the culinary arts and sciences. It includes several thousand cookbooks and cookery-related books, spanning the eighteenth to the twenty-first centuries, with emphasis on the modern era. Also in the collection are manuscripts and personal papers; popular ephemera and magazines; menus; community cookbooks; and memorabilia.

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Collection Overview

Chef Fritz Blank was a food scientist and leader of Philadelphia's modern restaurant movement. His collection was housed in the restaurant Deux Cheminees. Chef Fritz passed away in 2014.

The Chef Fritz Blank collections complement other culinary, food studies, and recipe book collections in the Kislak Center.

Chef Fritz carefully conceived, organized, and constructed his collections over many decades. He envisioned them as an interconnected set of materials, organized under distinct genres. Those categories are described here, and links are supplied to records in the online catalog and in finding aids.

Accordion List

The thousands of cookbooks and cookery-related books in the collection span the seventeenth to the twenty-first centuries. Among the American cookbooks are regional cookbooks from every corner of the country, as well as general and ingredient-specific cookbooks. The international component of the collection includes cookbooks on not only French and German cuisine but also Thai, Hungarian, and African cuisines, to mention just a few. These works are complemented by books on related topics, such as army cookery and culinary chemistry. There are cookbooks for children and cookbooks specifically for professional chefs, humorous cookbooks, erotic cookbooks, and cookbooks for unusual foodstuffs. Multiple editions of classics such as The Joy of Cooking allow researchers to discover the extent to which specific cookbooks change even as they stay the same.

Chef Fritz Blank was born and reared in rural south Jersey among victory gardens, chicken coops and duck pens. Fresh seafood and small game such as rabbit and muskrat were a regular part of family meals prepared by his German grandmother. Her kitchen influences were some of Blank's earliest memories and shaped his cooking at his Philadelphia restaurant Deux Cheminées.

Before becoming a chef, Blank earned degrees in dairy husbandry, dairy science, medical technology and clinical microbiology. He worked as an analytical chemist at the USDA Agricultural Research Center at Beltsville Maryland until accepting a commission in the US Army Medical Service Corps where Captain Blank functioned as a Clinical Laboratory Officer for five years. After leaving the military, Blank earned and completed a Masters degree in Clinical Microbiology at Thomas Jefferson University, and was the Associate Microbiologist at The Wilmington Medical Center. He later functioned for five years as Chief Microbiologist at Crozer-Chester Medical and Regional Burn Center, until opening Deux Cheminées in 1979.

The Chef Fritz Culinary Library and Archive was gifted to the Penn Libraries from 2002-2007.