American Studies
American Studies

Les Dames d'Escoffier Dallas Endows Presidential Fellowship Supporting AMS Grad Students

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Last year, The Dallas chapter of Les Dames d'Escoffier International (LDEI), a philanthropic organization of women leaders in the food, beverage, and hospitality industries, endowed a $100,000 Presidential Fellowship to the University of Texas at Austin’s Department of American Studies in support of graduate research in Texas, women, and food culture. UT AMS has been emerging as a leader in the field of food studies in the humanities, and has recently become the institutional home of Foodways Texas, a statewide organization dedicated to preserving, documenting and celebrating the diverse food stories of the state. Several members of the Dallas chapter of LDEI are also members of Foodways Texas, and, when they learned of the relationship between the department and the latter organization, decided that they wanted to support American Studies graduate students at UT. American Studies Department Chair Steven Hoelscher shares their enthusiasm and is delighted with the collaboration between the department, Foodways Texas, and the Dallas chapter of Les Dames d'Escoffier, saying that “American Studies is well situated to study the relationship between food and the humanities.”

The Fellowship is particularly exciting because it specifically earmarks funds for graduate students. Lynn Mattie, the philanthropy chair of the Dallas chapter of LDEI says that they did so in order to help foster scholars who focus on notable women in the history of Texas food, because “it is important to LDE Dallas to preserve the history of Texas food culture.” Mattie says they are hoping to support research that keeps that history in mind even as it looks towards the future; optimally, the work funded by the Fellowship will “inform” students’ “attitudes towards food and culture regardless of career path” as LDE Dallas thinks that the knowledge generated by that work “can enhance any profession.” LDE Dallas member Mary Kimbrough also said that the organization wants to be able to aid UT graduate students in their research, serving as a “conduit” for information, since there is a “wealth of knowledge” within its ranks “about what women have done in the business.” To that end, they are hopeful that recipients of the Fellowship would be willing to go to Dallas to present their projects.

Mattie added that LDE Dallas was hoping “to do something bigger” with the Presidential Fellowship, and they have gained recognition within the international organization for their philanthropy benefitting UT students and many others over the past twenty-five years. Dr. Hoelscher wishes to similarly recognize that commitment to giving: “We at UT AMS are grateful for the support of LDE Dallas and are looking forward to a long and fruitful partnership.”