Posted By - Kate Spencer On December 30, 2015

The New York Project: Icons, TV Stars, Media Moguls

Visual: NYC Food Scarf by Christina J. Wang, maker of luxe, cheeky and unforgettable objects.

Gina DePalma

On Wednesday, December 30, 2015, Mario Batali tweeted "RIP to the finest pastry chef I've ever known. Gina DePalma was everything @BABBORISTORANTE xxxxx Gina you are in our hearts FOREVER" after he learned that she had died of ovarian cancer.

DePalma joined Batali at Babbo as the first pastry chef when it opened in 1998 after working at Chanterelle and with Claudia Fleming at Gramercy Tavern.

Despite the fact that she considered her career in pastry to be a happy accident, DePalma won many awards in her career including Outstanding Pastry Chef in 2009 from the James Beard Foundation. She adored Italy and authored her own cookbook, Dolce Italiano: Desserts From the Babbo Kitchen. When she left Babbo in 2013, she traveled to Italy to continue her exploration and love of the culture and food.

We will miss Gina DePalma, her wit, candor and talent. Her personal blog was one to follow and she was profound on Twitter, even announcing that she was "dealing" with ovarian cancer because she couldn't stand the reference to battle. As she said "Who wants to be in the middle of a war zone?" 

She signed off with "Shine on you crazy diamonds!"

Cook On. You will be missed.

Ina Garten

Our favorite thing about Ina Garten is that she is a decider. She became the Barefoot Contessa by following her gut instinct. Isn't that what we all want for our lives? To follow our heart and pursue our passion?

In 1978, Ina Garten was working in the White House on nuclear energy policy and thought “I need to do something more creative. Seeing an ad for a specialty food store for sale in the Hamptons, she drove to Long Island to investigate. Keep in mind that while she had no experience in the food business, it was her passion and she is incredibly intelligent and has a terrific sense of style. 

All of this made the Barefoot Contessa into the phenomenon that it is today. In 1996, she sold the store to two employees (the store later closed in 2003). What did she do next? Cookbooks, people. The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook was a huge hit and the follow ups (Parties! Family Style, Paris, At Home, Back to Basics - which is now her show, then How Easy is That?, Foolproof and Make it Ahead). Her cookbooks always deliver: every. single. recipe. is. worth. making. Her television show, Barefoot Contessa, launched in 2002.

Katie Lee

Katie began cooking at the tender age of 4 under the guidance of her mentor Grandma Dora in West Virginia, with fresh vegetables from the garden and meat from the family’s cattle and pig farms. Raised so close to the source of food, seasonal, local cooking has been a core part of her passion for food.

Her first cookbook, The Comfort Table 92008) was soon followed by The Comfort Table: Recipes for Everyday Occasions (2009). She published her first novel, Groundswell, is about a woman who finds the healing powers of surfing while recovering from a divorce. Yes, she surfs and yes, the book is a glimpse into the fast paced life of being thrust into the spotlight after marriage to someone famous and the fall-out after divorce. 

Katie Lee is a host of Food Network’s The Kitchen and serves as a food and lifestyle contributor for The Early Show. She is a member of the Feeding America Council and has volunteered for Les Dames d’Escoffier, an organization that COOKGIRL adores as it seeks to educate and mentor women in the culinary profession.  

Rachael Ray

Rachael Ray held several jobs in the food industry before her signature "30 Minute Meals" classes were picked up by a local television newscast. She went on to host several Food Network shows, author tons of cookbooks, launch her own magazine (Every Day with Rachael Ray was named Launch of the Year by Advertising Age in 2007), and start a nationally syndicated talk show, Rachael Ray, for which she won a Daytime Emmy Award.

Rachel was born in Glen Falls, New York and raised in Lake George New York, surrounded by family in the restaurant business. Her entire mission is about simplifying recipes, providing shortcuts that anyone can do at home and getting more people back into the kitchen. All of this is delivered with her signature warmth, bubbly energy and distinctive voice.

Rachael Ray established Yum-O!, a nonprofit organization, to educate young people and their families about the importance of good nutrition and to help feed American children in need. Yum-o! is focused on educating kids and their families about cooking, feeding hungry American kids and funding cooking education and scholarships.

"My life has been a total accident — a very happy, wonderful accident that I didn't and couldn't have planned," says Rachael. Despite her growing celebrity she is determined to stay grounded and hold on to her down-to-earth values. She still spends as much time as she can at her cabin in the Adirondacks with her husband, lawyer John Cusimano, her family — the "research team" — and her beloved pit bull Isaboo, when they are not in Greenwich Village in New York.

Martha Stewart

Martha Stewart, founder of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and Emmy® Award-winning television show host, entrepreneur and bestselling author, is America’s most trusted lifestyle expert and teacher. Millions of people have come to rely on Martha Stewart as a source of useful “how-to” information and a guide for all aspects of everyday living. The fact that there is a reference point attached to her - as in describing someone as “the Martha Stewart of…..” - says a lot about her influence in creating the lifestyle category starting with her first book in 1982 (!), Entertaining.

Raised in Nutley, New Jersey, in a family with six children, Martha developed her passion for cooking, gardening and homekeeping at an early age. Her mother taught her the basics of cooking, baking, canning, and sewing; her father introduced her to gardening at the age of three. Martha earned a bachelor’s degree in history and architectural history at Barnard College. Upon graduating, she became a stockbroker on Wall Street, where she gained her early business training. 

In 1972 she moved to Westport, Connecticut, and developed a catering business that showcased her remarkable talent. She had literally taught herself to cook after reading Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. She has published more than 75 books and launched Martha Stewart's Cooking School.

Martha's namesake company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, founded in 1996, now reaches approximately 100 million consumers across all media platforms each month. She sold the business in 2015 to Sequential Brands for $353 million and in connection with the transaction, Martha Stewart will continue to serve as Chief Creative Officer of the brand she founded. Additionally, Ms. Stewart has become a significant shareholder in Sequential and a member of our Board of Directors.

"I'm excited that Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia has merged into Sequential Brands Group. Together, our combined scale, knowledge and resources will position us to expand both domestically and abroad. I am looking forward to this new chapter, and see a future focused on immediate growth and long-term success," said Martha Stewart in a press release.

Cook On!


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