Underground Gourmet’s books added to collection

February 15, 2012 5:43 AM

Aidan Smith

More than 400 books from the personal estate of food author and critic Richard Collin are available to the public at the Newcomb College Institute’s Nadine Vorhoff Library on the Tulane University uptown campus.


The Culinary History Collection at the Newcomb College Institute’s Vorhoff Library welcomes the addition of 400 books from Richard Collin, New Orleans’ first newspaper restaurant critic. (Photo by Paula Burch-Celentano)

Collin, author of The New Orleans Underground Gourmet (1970), the first book-length guide to local restaurants, was an icon in the city’s culinary community. He was the Crescent City’s first newspaper restaurant critic, starting at the New Orleans States-Item in 1972.   

The Vorhoff Library is home to a substantial collection of culinary texts and cookbooks.

Collin and his wife, Rima, wrote The New Orleans Cookbook, published by Knopf in 1975, which remains in print and has become a classic. Collin was emeritus professor of history at the University of New Orleans. He died in 2010 in Birmingham, Ala., where he had relocated after Hurricane Katrina, and his books finally made the long journey back to New Orleans after his estate was settled.

The contribution, including titles like Wild Raspberries by Andy Warhol and Suzie Frankfurt (1997) and 1968’s Vietnamese Cookery by Jill Huong Miller, has been integrated into the Vorhoff’s existing collection of culinary history books.  The culinary history collection, including the newest additions, is open to the public.

Susan Tucker, Newcomb’s archivist and leader of the library’s Culinary History Group, remembered Collin as a true asset to the culinary community.

“The books are remarkable scholarly editions with a good mix of practical culinary treasures,” Tucker says. “They remind us that food history and observations of foodways form a wonderful part of our heritage as scholars, cooks, and indeed as human beings. Dick himself honored us by wishing the books to come to us. He was a friend to the end, always calling when we took the smallest step in writing about or discussing the food of the city.”

Aidan Smith is external affairs officer at the Newcomb College Institute.


Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000