They say old friends never die and I surely hope they are right because Sheila had so many friends and admirers.We all want her to live forever and she will, in the palette of our minds.
Sheila’s life was a grand adventure in which she constantly challenged herself to try new things. When I first met her, I was publishing several cookbooks under the series title of The Great American Cooking Schools. The criteria I had established was that all the authors were unknown and had never before written a book. Sheila and Julee didn’t fall into the cooking school category but they were certainly unknown way back then.
“Aha!,” thought I…perfect authors for a book.
Sheila and her old friend Julee Rosso came to my home in Manhattan one morning. They were hugely enthusiastic about joining my merry band of novices. I told them that all my authors received the same contract because I recognized that they all either already knew each other or were likely to have a drink with each other at some future date and I didn’t want anyone to discover (after consuming more than one drink) that he or she had received more or less advance against royalties than another.
Sheila and Julee were cordial but noncommittal.
I offered them tea. Both said they’d preferred coffee. I made the coffee, not realizing I hadn’t tossed out the tea leaves that remained in the pot. Thus I came to serve them an extraordinary new hot beverage; a T/coffee combo. They didn’t exclaim with delight. Nor, ultimately did they trust me to publish their first book beneath my unconventional banner. Instead they signed up with Workman and sold more than two million copies of The Silver Palate Cookbook.
I think they made the right decision.
We remained friends.