Pre-1970: Odette Bery, Chef / Owner of the Turtle Cafe

Has Skillet, Will Travel

“New chef in town is blonde, blue-eyed, British and a fluent French cook, Odette Bery, 22, already has earned her living by cooking in three continents.

‘London, Paris, and Cape Town, and today Boston,’ Odette beamed. ‘I love your market with fresh fruits and vegetables in Winter, your convenient frozen foods and those in tins, your bottled meat stocks for making soups and sauces.’

Tuesday morning Odette taught her first lesson in French country cooking at Arlington Street Church. Every Tuesday for the next 13 weeks she will teach the public in a series sponsored by the Society of Arts and Crafts.

‘I’ve chosen Normandy for this first Boston lesson,’ she said, ‘for the north coast of France has seafood like yours, excellent lamb and beef, good butter and cheese for cooking. The vine does not proper here, but apples do. Cider is used in cooking and distilled it becomes Calvados, flavorful liqueur. Norman chefs use both cider and Calvados in their highly individual sauces.’

The theme of these demonstrations is ‘French dinners cooked in an American kitchen… without American help’ and Odette performs effortlessly. One secret is her planning, and preparation of vegetables, meats. Students will learn most if they arrive early for class and take notes on Odette Bery’s table of cooking supplies.

‘I spend one hour chopping onions, celery, trimming the meat,’ she explained. ‘Then the cooking’s fun — without fuss.’

This girl who earned her diploma from the Cordon Bleu in London when she was 19, cooked and catered parties for a South African family in the diplomatic service for 18 months, says she is ‘happiest when I’m teaching someone.’

Odette is a calm cook. Her hands are skilled as a surgeon’s as she deftly chops a bunch of parsley with a splendid French knife. The tip of the blade is held firmly down while the cutting blade is lifted up and put down, up, down… ‘This takes three months to learn but one never forgets.’

Meanwhile on the gas range a heavy enamelled skillet of caramel apples sputters gently with boiling butter and sugar syrup bubbling up between the concentric rows of sliced fruit.

‘Apple Caramel Flan with pastry topping that’s inverted to show the golden glazed fruit is typically Norman,’ she said.

On another burner she browned lamb chops and topped them with brown sauce thickened with chicken liver puree flavored with Calvados.

In the oven a handsome pottery casserole of Potatoes Provecal was baking golden brown.

‘I’m not long in Boston, only seven months,’ she said, ‘but I know your appetite for good homemade soup.’ She whirred the blender of Boston haddock, shrimp, seasonings and broth, and added, ‘Potage Creme Normande served steaming hot is a wonderful way to start dinner. It’s more flavorful made ahead and the cream added when reheated. Such soup deserves a splendid pottery tureen.’

Chairmen of this beginning series of French cooking lessons are Mrs. Lewis Cabot and Mrs. Richard Solomon of Boston. Tickets are available for individual lessons.”

-Excerpt and image courtesy of, The Boston Globe, “Has Skillet, Will Travel,” by Dorothy Crandall, March 2, 1966

“It will be a Boston first when the venerable Garland Junior College opens its door for an evening course as the ‘Principles in French Cookery’ next Tuesday.

And for the first time the 96-year-old college for women will become coeducational. Three men are enrolled in this ‘filled to capacity’ class of 21 students whose instructor is Odette Bery, Garland’s newest and youngest faculty member.

Miss Bery is a Cordon Bleu graduate who, while only 24, has already taught cooking on three continents.

‘My most exciting experience to date was demonstrating French cooking to men and women at the diplomatic service in Cape Town, South Africa,’ she says. ‘Since then I have changed from weighing flour, sugar and shortening to measuring them — the American way.’ Blonde, blue-eyed and petite (‘I’m 5ft. 11/2in. and that half inch is very important.’) Odette Bery is confident and every inch the teacher.

In her two hour classes from 7 to 9 p.m., she will demonstrate the basics of making the classic sauces and soups, omelets and crepes and their many variations. Her before-class work is extensive for ‘good preparation makes the cooking fun — without fuss.’

This Cordon Bleu is the calmest cook. Her hands are skilled as a surgeon’s as she deftly chops a bunch of parsley with a splendid French knife. The tip of the blade is held firmly down while the cutting blade is lifted up and pat down, up, down… ‘this takes three months to learn but one never forgets.’

Odette Bery’s teaching is known to Boston. During the three years she has lived here she has taught 14 courses. This first evening session at Garland was filled immediately and now she is planning a second course of eight lessons to start in January, 1969.

‘Boston hostesses ask most often for first course dishes. They want something different — and interesting.’ Miss Bery says, ‘My own favorite is Potage Longueville served iced at this season, steaming hot in Winter. Peas in the pod are nearly always available in Boston — this is an excellent food shopping city but dried green split peas may be used. Dried peas need longer soaking and cooking. That’s the only difference.

Her hands flew as she talked. ‘Take care to keep the soup from boiling after the cream is stirred in. Boiled cream would cause the soup to curdle — and label you as a careless cook!'”

-Excerpt and images courtesy of, The Boston Globe, “Add a touch of Gallic spice,” by Dorothy Crandall, Sept. 26, 1968

1 thought on “Pre-1970: Odette Bery, Chef / Owner of the Turtle Cafe”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s