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Booking the cooks

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You build great libraries by collecting great collections, insists Frank D’Andraia, UM dean of library services. Last February, at UM’s celebration of the 100th birthday of Mike Mansfield, D’Andraia met Raymond Dockstader, a long-serving aid to Sen. Mansfield. When he learned that Dockstader had a collection of over 500 cookbooks, D’Andraia couldn’t contain his salivation. He let it be known that those cookbooks were more than welcome at the UM library system.

“We have a serious culinary program,” says D’Andraia, “and I knew that this collection would be a great asset for us. It is extremely contemporary, mostly from the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. Ray and I stayed in touch after he went back to D.C. Next thing I know, he had it appraised and was packing it up.”

The collection, valued at over $10,000, will soon be available in UM’s College of Technology Library. At the moment, the collection is being prepared for shelving, a process that includes fitting each book with a plate depicting a colorful row of books on a shelf, with the words “Dockstader Collection… Culinary Arts.” The plate is based on an original piece of needlepoint, created by Dockstader, whose needlepoint has been honored by the Woodlawn Plantation Needlepoint Exhibit and Competition, the most prestigious event of its kind in the U.S.

Dockstader’s many talents also include fudge-making, as well as other presentations of chocolate. Back in the D.C. heyday, the fruits of such efforts did not go unappreciated by his boss, Sen. Mansfield, who is purported to have had quite a sweet tooth. Many of the books in Dockstader’s collection attest to his chocolate tendencies, such as Cocolat: Extraordinary Chocolate Desserts, by Alice Medrich, which is as graphically stimulating as a visual food stimulus can be. Other books in the collection travel the world, stopping in Italy, France, Portugal, Brazil, Butte, and that most exotic of locales, California, to name only a few.

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