Unrivalled Cook Book
From the The Ladies of Temple Bazaar, Los Angeles, 1902
This book is thought to be the earliest Jewish cookbook published in California. It is believed to have been compiled by female members of Los Angeles's first synegogue,congregation B’nai B’rith (now Wilshire Boulevard Temple). Founded as a small shul in 1862, the congregation eventually moved to a large, Victorian synagogue at the corner of 9th and Hope Streets in 1896 (pictured). The impressive building was designed by A.M. Edelman, who also designed The Breed Street Shul in Boyle Heights and the Shrine Auditorium, which was long the site of The Academy Awards. Edelman was, in fact, the son of the B’nai B’rith’s first Rabbi, A.W. Edelman, a polish immigrant.
A year after the publication of The Unrivalled Cook Book in 1902, the congregation officially joined the American Reform Jewish movement. In 1929, the Temple moved to its current, main sanctuary space on Wilshire Boulevard (also pictured, featuring the sanctuary’s interior murals by Hugo Ballin).
This cookbook is, notably, not focused on Kosher cooking. A significant number of recipes incorporate shellfish and pork and it is possible some contributors may have been non-Jews. However, the book does include recipes with matzo meal, as well as recipes for passover-style macaroons. Many of founding members of congregation B’nai B’rith were wealthy and assimilated Jewish immigrants from Europe, and the inclusion of non-kosher recipes perhaps speaks to the integrated nature of Jewish identity in early Los Angeles society.
Recipe condtributors include names of many of Los Angeles's influential Jewish families, such as Newmark, Hellman, and Baruch.
A few recipes in the book reference other, earlier American cookbooks, including “The Council Cook Book” - which could be an unknown early version of Jewish cookbook put out by the Council Of Jewish Women in San Francisco (though the earliest recognized publication of that “Council Cook Book” is 1909, 7 years after the publication of The Unrivalled Cook Book).
The cookbook also contains many period advertisements for local Los Angeles businesses.
This edition is a reprint - one of three books I have reprinted specially for the Community Cookbook Archive, based on scans of the originals. These reprints are books I felt were particularly important additions to the collection and its ever-growing narrative of LA. The other two Community Cookbook Archive reprints are The Federation Cook Book and Comidas Mexicanas.
Exterior photo via The LAPL Photo Collection
Interior photo via Wilshire Boulevard Temple
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Cooking The Sephardic Way
Leo Baeck Temple Cookbook, The
Look and Cook
Unrivalled Cook Book
Wise Women Cook Book
You will be able to download more of this book, soon! Due to their fragile nature, each book is being digitized by hand. If you have particular interest in a particular cookbook, please reach out via the Contact Page, so it will be given priority.