50 Women Game Changers in Food: Anne Willan (Week 27)

In 2011, Gourmet released their list of the 50 Women Game Changers in Food. I stumbled on this entirely by accident. One week a couple of months ago, I was meal planning, and didn’t have access to my Ina Garten cookbooks. So, I googled the recipe I was looking for and found it on a blog that was making its way through the list (she’s number 39… I’m a little disgruntled that Rachael Ray is higher up than she is). I was inspired to do the same. I need to challenge myself more in the kitchen, and I thought this would be an excellent way to do so.  As I’ve been planning for this, I’ve been flipping through cookbooks, checking out websites and buying new equipment, and I’m excited. I’m also really looking forward to learning more about these game changing women, and introducing myself to recipes I’ve never cooked before.

(And since this entire year-long project will be all recipes I’ve never made before, I can’t promise that everything will turn out the way I want it to. But whether a dish is a winner or an epic fail, I’m going to be completely honest about it.)

Week 27 gives us Anne Willan.


Anne Willan was born on January 26, 1938, In Newcastle, England. I can’t find much information about her early life, only that she received her Master’s from Cambridge, before relocating to the United States, where she worked on the editorial staff for Gourmet Magazine. She wasn’t in the United States long before she relocated to Paris, and opened a culinary school: École de Cuisine La Varenne in Paris in 1975. The school was unique to it’s time & location, in that they offered courses in both French & English. A satellite location of the school opened in Burgundy in 1988. The school relocated from France, to Santa Monica, California in 2008.

La Varenne no longer offers degree program, but Anne, along with other notable chefs, still occasionally offers gastronomic courses.

Anne is well recognized as an authoriety on French cooking. She is the recipient of two James Beard awards, a Bon Appetit Teacher of the Year award, and many others. She has authored more than 30 books, including The Country Cooking of France.

2015-07-04 23.17.39I didn’t plan well for this week. And a lot of the recipes I looked at required weeks of time. So, I decided to make madeleines. These were easy to make, and delicious. They’re best when they’re warm from the oven, but they were still good over the next couple of days. They were a little plain looking though, so the powdered sugar is just to add some visual interest.

Now that I’ve bought the pan, I would love to play around with different varieties. I’ve seen all types of sweet ones, some dipped in chocolate, and even some savory ones. I’ve got to get my moneys worth from that pan 😉
2015-07-04 23.16.50Honey Madeleines (Les Madeleines de Commercy au Miel)
(Original recipe found here.)


  • 1 C. of all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 t. of baking powder
  • 1/2 C. of unsalted butter. melted & cooled
  • 1/2 C. of sugar
  • 1 T. of brown sugar
  • 1 T. of honey
  • Zest of a navel orange
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk


  1. Sift together the flour & baking powder in a bowl, set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the butter, sugars, orange zest, honey, eggs & egg yolk. Use the whisk attachment and beat until smooth, about 1-2 minutes.
  3. Slowly incorporate the dry ingredients and mix for an additional minute. Cover the bowl, and refrigerate for 2-8 hours.
  4. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and prepare the pan. (She recommends buttering it well, freezing to let the butter set, and then butter again. My pan is nonstick, and I went with cooking spray, and they came out perfectly.) Fill the molds to the top, and bake for 8-10 minutes. They’ll start to pull from the sides, and will have puffed up. Turn out onto a rack to cool.

2015-07-04 23.18.232015-07-04 23.19.47

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