March 5, 2010
UC Davis profs' chocolate book up for prestigious award

chocolate5.jpgA rich book on chocolate co-authored by two local professors is among finalists for an International Association of Culinary Professionals award.

"Chocolate: History, Culture and Heritage" by UC Davis Professor Emeritus Louis Grivetti and Howard-Yana Shapiro, global director of plant science and external research at Mars, Inc. and an adjunct professor at UC Davis, is a scholarly work that considers the history of chocolate by theme and topic throughout the centuries. Chapters explore topic such as chocolate and religion, medicinal chocolate and chocolate preparation in early North America.

The book is one of three finalists in the IACP's "culinary history" category, the group announced Thursday. The cookbook awards are "considered the gold standard for culinary publishing," according to an IACP news release. More than 500 entries were submitted this year, making it one of the most competitive ever.

grivetti.jpg"...Given the number of entrees and the rigor of the selection process, we are honored to be identified and considered along with the books of our food history colleagues," Grivetti (pictured right) wrote me in an e-mail.

Work on the book began more than 10 years ago when the chocolate history research group was founded within the Department of Nutrition at UC Davis.

Mars, Inc. funded a research project on the history of chocolate and its roles in various capacities within the Americas and the transfer of the information to Western Europe. The findings were published in professional journals and then Mars approached the group again to study the role of chocolate elsewhere in the world.

All told, more than 40 team members contributed to the book, working in more than 250 archives, libraries and museums in more than 30 countries, Grivetti said.

"Literally hundreds of interesting facts related to chocolate emerged through our combined efforts," Grivetti said. "And to assist readers, we assembled an accurate timeline of chocolate-related information as an appendix at the back of the book - an effort we made to counter-balance much of the erroneous information about chocolate that appears widely on the Web."

shapiro.jpgShapiro (shown at left) described writing the book as "a dream come true."

"It was an amazing adventure to say the least and the mission to launch a field of scholarship is well evidenced in the book," he wrote in an e-mail from West Africa, where he is currently working.

For more information about the work, check out the book on

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