main menu
main menu

Penn Culinary
Chef Fritz Blank Culinary Archive and Library     Meet Chef Fritz  |  Library & Archive  |  Endowment Fund
Chef Fritz

the Collection
The Chef Fritz Blank Culinary Archive and Library is a major resource for the study of the culinary arts and sciences. In 2005 Chef Blank donated his Victus Populi and Fifty States American Community Cookbook collections to the Penn Libraries, followed in 2008 by the main part of his culinary archive and library, consisting of thousands of books, manuscripts, periodicals, menus, posters, prints, and related ephemera, as well as his own personal papers. These important materials are already being used by Penn faculty and students for a range of research projects and classroom assignments. A Penn Libraries publication, The Library as Learning Matrix: The Art of the Box Lunch (download the PDF) explores the use of the Victus Populi collection pamphlets in a class assignment for Penn Professor Thomas Devaney's Critical Writing Seminar, "The Art of Eating."

During the fall of 2002, a major exhibition, in the Kamin Gallery of Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center, of works from his collection, titled A Chef & His Library, examined the many influences on Chef Fritz and revealed his eclectic and egalitarian collecting style. This exhibition can be viewed online in a web version at: During the fall of 2009, another cookery exhibition, Who's Coming to Dinner? Cooking for Different Audiences celebrated Chef Blank's gift which, in conjunction with two earlier gifts, the Esther B. Aresty Collection of Rare Books in the Culinary Arts and the Laurie Burrows Grad Cookbook Collection, have made Penn a major center for historical cookery, cookbooks, and related materials.

  The Library  See the listings in Penn's Franklin Catalog 
The Accomplished Cook The Accomplished Cook Complete Confectioner
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.
The Accomplished Cook The Accomplished Cook Complete Confectioner
A small number of cookery manuscripts, mostly in English and from the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries, complement the printed cookbooks and provide a glimpse into household cookery practices. Many of these manuscripts include a range of recipes for foodstuffs as well as beverages like beer and wine, medicinal concoctions, and household products used for cleaning and polishing.
The Accomplished Cook The Accomplished Cook Complete Confectioner
This collection encompasses a wide range of periodicals, magazines, and serialized recipe pamphlets, including extensive runs of Gourmet and Bon Appètit; early twentieth-century women's and cooking school magazines, such as McCall's and The Boston Cooking School Magazine of Culinary Science and Domestic Economics; trade and institutional publications like Chef Magazine and Food Forum Quarterly; and scholarly journals, such as Gastronomica and Food and Foodways. While there are earlier holdings, as mentioned above, the bulk of this material dates from the early 1970s to the present.
Victus Populi
The Accomplished Cook The Accomplished Cook Complete Confectioner
The promotional cookery pamphlets that comprise this collection, whose name translates to "Food of the People," reflect the growth and importance of prepared foods and cooking appliances from the late nineteenth through the twentieth centuries. From Jell-O to Rumford Baking Powder, Crisco to Cheez Whiz, Osterizer Blenders to Steamliner Pressure Cookers, these products changed daily life for housewives throughout the country by reducing the time and energy required to prepare meals for family consumption while simultaneously defining a new way of life in which convenience was touted as a virtue.
Fifty States Community Cookbook
The Accomplished Cook The Accomplished Cook Complete Confectioner
The over 1,000 mostly spiral-bound community cookbooks-compilations of recipes collected from individuals and disseminated by organizations such as a churches, schools, or clubs, generally to raise funds-suggest the prevalence and importance of this format in American life. Most are spiral-bound, simply printed, and many have hand-drawn illustrations. They are an excellent source for regional specialties and peculiar recipes, which are often complemented by culinary tips, history, and humor. Representing forty-eight of the fifty states and Canada, this collection seeks to add community cookbooks from North and South Dakota to make it truly representative of the entire country.
  The Archive
Personal Papers The Chef's papers are primarily from the thirty year period during which he was owner and executive chef of Deux Cheminées. They document his involvement in food-related conferences, including the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery and the Southern Foodways Symposium, for which the collection holds both his research material and the articles he presented.  Materials from events which he both organized and participated in, such as The Book and the Cook, are also present. His work for The Philadelphia Singers, as a member of the board and as a supporter through special dinners at the restaurant is documented as well. Finally, his papers hold correspondence, food-related articles and recipes from various sources, many with the Chef's own annotations, and files and memos relating to the daily affairs of the restaurant.
The Accomplished Cook The Accomplished Cook Complete Confectioner
A range of materials are encompassed by this category, including awards, artifacts, videos, and articles about the Chef and Deux Cheminèes. Included among the artifacts are Julie Dannenbaum's duck press and an Army mess tray. There are awards from Gourmet, the James Beard Foundation, Mobil Travel Guide, and the American Culinary Federation, among others. Videos include appearances by Chef Fritz on various television programs, as well as other cookery-related videos he collected.
The Accomplished Cook The Accomplished Cook The Accomplished Cook

The menu collection is one of ephemeral objects that reflect the Chef's interest in the wide range of dining experiences available to us. From local take-out joints to foreign bistros, these menus reflect the range of culinary options available around the globe. There are menus from South Africa, Singapore, Kenya, and Sri Lanka, Venice, Dijon, Geneva, and Brussels. A small group of historical menus provide a glimpse into the past. In addition, there are private party menus from Deux Cheminées, with the Chef's own notes, as well as menus from his Historical Dining Series.

Also see A la Carte, recipes from the Penn Culinary collections designed and printed by students in Typography at the University of Pennsylvania School of Design.

The Accomplished Cook The Accomplished Cook The Accomplished Cook
The photograph collection comprises hundreds of photographs and slides from between 1936 and 2007, with the bulk of the collection from the 1980s and 1990s through 2007. Photographs in the collection reflect daily life at Deux Cheminèes, cookery events, classes, conferences, travel, and time spent with family and friends. Among the early photographs is one of the three year old Chef with his grandmother, "Oma," who was a major influence on the Chef during his childhood.


U Penn  |   U Penn Library  |  "Ask Chef Fritz" Message Board  |  2002 Online Exhibit "A Chef and His Library"