Marcie Rothman Endowment for Food Studies
Marcie Rothman's passion for cooking led her to ensure the field of food studies will continue to grow at UCLA.
Marcie Rothman fell in love with UCLA's Powell Library at the tender age of 13 when she spent hours in the stacks researching a term paper on the Teapot Dome Scandal. Growing up in the San Fernando Valley, she was no stranger to UCLA as her parents were UCLA alums. They took advantage of all the campus had to offer and brought Marcie and her sister, Rita, to experience everything from football games at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and concerts in Royce Hall to the yearly campus open house and ethnomusicology lectures in Schoenberg Hall.
Marcie developed a love of food and cooking from her mom and grandmother, good cooks who used the abundance of fresh seasonal foods available in Los Angeles. When Marcie graduated in 1968 with a degree in political science, she took many UCLA Extension cooking classes and learned Indian, Chinese, Thai, and Japanese cooking. She added French cuisine — her parents loved France and its food — and learned Jewish holiday dishes from her grandmother.
In the 1970s and ’80s, the food scene in San Francisco and Los Angeles popped with restaurants and up-and-coming chefs. Marcie took classes at local cooking schools that featured traveling chefs including Julia Child, Marcela Hazan, Ken Hom Jacques Pepin, and Paula Wolfert, among others. At the well-known Los Angeles restaurant Ma Maison, a young chef named Wolfgang Puck gave hands-on classes in the restaurant's cooking school. Those classes from masters in their cuisines expanded Marcie's cooking skills.
When Marcie moved to Santa Rosa, California, she began a television and radio career to show people how to cook great tasting food on a budget. Ultimately, she appeared on the Sacramento CBS affiliate KOVR for more than 12 years. During those years, she created The $5 Chef: how to cook a fast and easy meal for four that cost $5. For more than 20 years, she traveled the Pacific Northwest during the Thanksgiving season to talk and cook on radio and television about Thanksgiving tips for turkey and Mrs. Cubbison's Stuffing. She wrote two cookbooks as The $5 Chef.
Travel and cookbooks: Marcie loves them both as much as she loves to cook. She caught the travel bug early from her parents, and food continues to draw her (and her camera) to places far and near including Tibet, Cuba, China, Japan and Europe. She scouts used bookstores to add to her 1,000-plus collection that mostly represents world cuisines of the mid-twentieth century. Some years ago in an effort to focus her collecting, she created the California Cookbook Collection in UCLA Library Special Collections. This allowed her to concentrate on California restaurants, chefs, and food.
In 2016, UCLA created the interdisciplinary food studies minor in the College, and Marcie found a special spot to fund a scholarship for the minor and to endow the collection at the Library. The funds will allow undergraduate, graduate, and extension students, as well as faculty and researchers to use the vast resources of the UCLA Library system to further their work in the growing field of food studies.