Princess Pamela’s Soul Food Cookbook: A Mouth-Watering Treasury of Afro-American Recipes by Pamela Strobel, Matt Lee, Ted Lee (Rizzoli) is rising on Amazon’s sales rankings after NPR’s All Things Considered featured the newly rediscovered cookbook. It jumped from #6,945 to #94.
In the 1960s Pamela Strobel was an early version of a celebrity chef. Her NYC restaurant, Little Kitchen, was a such a hit she was featured on TV and published a cookbook. NPR reports the restaurant “was basically a speakeasy. You had to know to ring the bell to be let in.” She did not let just anyone in.
Between then and now, the restaurant closed, Strobel’s fame faded, and the cookbook went out of print.
Now it is back, because Ted and Matt Lee “found a ragged copy at a vintage booksellers.” The Lee brothers are the force behind several cookbooks, including the 2007 James Beard Cook Book of the Year, The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook: Stories and Recipes for Southerners and Would-be Southerners.
They met Strobel long ago when they were starting up their business selling Southern food via mail order. Matt Lee tells NPR:
“we knocked on her door. It said please knock. It was always locked, and she peeled back the curtain and sized us up, cracked the door open. And we gave our pitch, and she was like no, thanks and closed the door. And that was our one experience with the great Princess Pamela.”
After they found her book they spent years working on her story. Where she is now and what happened to her is a mystery. Even a private detective has been unable to locate her or determine what became of her.
She is no mystery to the cooking world, however. Confirming her star power, Carla Hall, Ruth Reichl, and Marcus Samuellson offer blurbs.
The cookbook is the first of a new imprint, the Lee Brothers Library Series, and is published complete with the poetry Strobel included with nearly every recipe.