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Joan Nathan

Joan Nathan

JOAN NATHAN considers food through the lenses of history, culture, and tradition. She regularly contributes to The New York Times and Tablet Magazine and is the author of 11 award-winning cookbooks. Her most recent book is King Solomon’s Table: a Culinary Exploration of Jewish Cooking from Around the World, which was published by Alfred A. Knopf in April 2017. Nathan’s work preserves the heritage of Jewish and other ethnic cooking and encourages new traditions to take shape. 

In 1994, Nathan’s Jewish Cooking in America won both the James Beard Award for the best American cookbook and the IACP/Julia Child Cookbook of the Year Award. The same James Beard Award was later bestowed on her 2005 cookbook The New American Cooking. An earlier work, An American Folklife Cookbook, was given the R.T. French Tastemaker Award in 1985 for American cooking. Nathan was on the 1998 “Forward 50” list of the 50 most influential Jews.

Her culinary talents translated easily to television. In 2000 her PBS series Jewish Cooking in American with Joan Nathan was nominated for the James Beard Award for Best National Television Food Show. She has made guest appearances on many programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, The Martha Stewart Show, and All Things Considered.

Nathan has won numerous awards for her work. In 2001 she was honored as an inductee into the James Beard Foundation’s Who’s Who in American Food and Beverage, and she has also received the Silver Spoon Award from Food Arts Magazine. She was the guest curator of the 2005 Smithsonian Folk Life Festival’s Food Culture USA, a program which was based on the research for Nathan’s The New American Cooking. In May 2011, she was awarded a Special Recognition Award from the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research for her work to preserve Jewish foodways. In 2015, Nathan joined the Kitchen Cabinet, an advisory board at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History and was awarded a Grande Dame from Les Dames D’Escoffier, joining the ranks of the likes of Alice Waters and Lydia Bastianich.

Nathan is an active board member of Martha’s Table, a DC-based nonprofit which provides comprehensive support to impoverished individuals in both the short-term and long term. Annually she co-chairs Sunday Night Suppers, an event in which two DC-based organizations, Martha’s Table and DC Central Kitchen, team up to fight hunger. Under Joan’s tenure, the event has raised over $3 million towards the cause. 

The mother of three grown children, Nathan lives in Washington, D.C. and Martha’s Vineyard with her husband, attorney Allan Gerson. For more information, please visit her website at