August 29, 2004 by

Leslie Revsin


Categories: Artists, Business

In the early 1970s, American women simply did not work in the field of fine cuisine. But Leslie Kim Revsin refused to allow tradition to keep her from breaking through the glass ceiling.
The Chicago native graduated from the hotel and restaurant program at New York Technical College in 1972, and landed a job as a “kitchen man” at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel. Within a year, she became the first woman to work as a chef in that prestigious kitchen.
Revsin opened Restaurant Leslie, her own Greenwich Village bistro in 1977, and quickly earned a reputation for her scrumptious strawberry pasta and Roquefort beignets. After the establishment closed in 1981, Revsin spent the next two decades working in many of Manhattan’s best restaurants and appearing on the PBS show “Master Chefs of New York.”
A founding member of Les Dames d’Escoffier, a society for women in the culinary arts, Revsin also attended the University of California, Berkeley, and Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn. She published the cookbooks “Great Fish, Quick: Delicious Dinners From Fillets and Shellfish” and “Come for Dinner: Memorable Meals to Share With Friends.” Three more cookbooks bearing her byline are scheduled for publication in Sept. 2004 and March 2005.
Revsin died on Aug. 9 of ovarian cancer. She was 59.

5 Responses to Leslie Revsin

  1. Donald Warriner

    Leslie was my boss at, The Inn at Pound Ridge in 1992. I ended up there after the sudden death of my mother and in a state of shock.
    The atmosphere of her kitchen was just what I needed: a quiet, focused environment where we produced excellent food.
    One of Leslie’s distinguishing qualities was her ability to work with people, get what she needed and help channel all one’s energy into their work.
    Leslie was always professional and thoughtful, a marvelous cook. I still use the notes and recipes I collected while working with her.
    Leslie was exemplary of the place women have in the professional kitchen. Her ability to commmunicate in a non-offensive way and demonstrating a command of the kitchen that always reminded me of a piece of music; where the actions of every cook resulted in symphony of sounds and smells and hardly a word need be spoken.
    Don Warriner
    Los Angeles Trade Technical College

  2. howard chapman

    I worked with Leslie in Pound Ridge in 1991. She was a great cook and a very decent person. We had a lot of fun working on the line.
    Every dish that we made there was based on her solid grasp of techniques and skills necessary to succeed in the culinary world. There was no way that you could produce anything less than outstanding if you just listened to what she was saying.
    Like Don, I still use my notes and recipes to this very day.
    Howard Chapman
    Cooking For All Occasions

  3. dan peterson

    only today did i realize leslie had died. we followed her around to three locations in nyc and always celebrated her exceptional kitchen. i spoke with her once to invite her to teach in our louisiana cooking school, but that never materialized. she will be long remembered by this guest in her restaurants in nyc. dan peterson

  4. J.B.Woessner

    I worked for chef leslie @ One Fifth Ave now 24 years ago.I was very lucky to get the job,coming in thier with minimal experience.Leslie would be usually be finishing up for the day when I started so I use to come in an hour or two early to work with her on my own time.Everyday she taught me something new and I appreciated the time learning from her.I was there when she did Masters Chefs of New York,and Les Dames.The memory I have never forgotten is one day I came to work and changed on the locker room downstairs.An hour or so later I realized I didnt have my wallet,I went back down and found it torn apart all over.It was a few days till payday and I had just borrowed 40 dollars from my Dad to get me threw,of course the money was gone.I was most upset that someone I worked with did this to me.During the shift Leslie and Andrew(her Sous)notice and called me up to her desk.I will never forget her saying she couldnt cover the whole loss but would split it with me and put 20 dollars in my pocket of my chefs coat.I cannot describe how that made me feel,my boss is doing this for me.I touched me soooo much Ive never forgotten and have told this story many times over the years,thanks for everything Leslie and I will always miss and think of you.JB

  5. Michael Wright

    I was the prep cook for Leslie at the ill-fated P.S. 77 restaurant, NYC, in the mid-70s. She was great to work for, always kind and ready to provide helpful training, and certainly patient with someone she didn’t personally hire. Watching her perfect a recipe for a white fish quenelle with lobster butter was a lesson in chef art. Tasting it is something I can still recall with astonishment. I didn’t know she was gone until this year. I hope her passage was as gentle as it could have been. She was a truly great woman.

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