Chef Bette Drew passed away June 2012 and left me her vegetarian website, which inspired Below is the bio from her original website, written in her words. — Liz Diamond

Chef_BetteI started cooking at the impossible age of four and a half. Mom wasn’t feeling well that morning and I was hungry. I went to the kitchen to get something to eat. As I took the Hershey’s Cocoa box off of the shelf to make some cocoa, the words ‘Chocolate Cake’ jumped up. That sounded ever so much better than cocoa, so I started to do that instead.

Of course at four and a half my level of literacy left something to be desired and I didn’t know the difference between the abbreviations for tsp and Tbs. So I used 2 Tbs of baking soda.

Since Mom had told me to never, never to touch the oven, I cooked it on top of the stove.

She woke up to the smell of burning bubbling chocolate and could have destroyed my life — future career and all — in that moment — but she was an amazing woman; all she said was,
“Bette dear, if you want to cook, let’s do it together.”

A Family Tradition

My maternal Grandfather had been the Chef at Chateau Frontenac in Quebec before the turn of the last century. My mother was a talented cook with a passion for the exotic.

An odd child, by the time I was seven I had begun to read the family’s extensive collection of cookbooks like novels, traveling around the world through ethnic cookery. Under my mother’s patient supervision. I often invited my playmates into her sparkling kitchen for an afternoon’s exploration of some culinary delight that had caught my fancy.

The Arnold School

At eight and a half I was sent to The Arnold School in East Pembroke, Massachusetts which was located on 365 acres of farm and woods. It was based in the ‘puritan ethic’ where work is worship and believe me we worshiped with a vengeance!

At 4:30 a.m. we were milking the cows, and separating the milk from the cream and churning butter and gathering eggs. Following showers and breakfast we went to chapel and classes which broke at 11 for mid day chores. After lunch we went back to classes packed with rigorous academics and at 4:00 p.m. we were back at chores. Five afternoons a week I participated in cooking dinner for the sixty students and faculty at our progressive boarding school.

A Major Turning Point For Me

I learned a lot about the food chain, about animal husbandry, about growing fruits and vegetables, and about herbs. I learned enough biology in this environment that I never had to open a book again until College when both genetics and the Krebs cycle were introduced as new information.

However, when they slaughtered the bull calf I had just taught how to drink from a pail at 27 days, I was heartbroken and stopped eating meat. These good people were not vegetarian and had no sympathy for my new-found awareness of the realities of life.

After several weeks of stubbornly refusing to eat the meat on my plate, missing both play-time and desserts they finally broke me to their will when they threatened to exclude me from a coveted trip to town for a movie and ice cream!

That did it.

My brief rebellion and excursion into vegetarianism was at an end only to be picked up again as a lifelong commitment when, as an adult, I understood how right I had been all those years ago.

My Work Now

Now I give vegetarian cooking classes and lecture widely on Vegetarianism: a diet for all reasons as I have come to understand the negative impact of animal husbandry on the planet as well as the individual.

It is my hope that you too will enjoy the recipes and information offered here.