Alma was one of the first Americans to
receive the Grand Diplôme from Le Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris, France.
Her husband, Donald, a history professor at the University of Chicago, won a
Fulbright Scholarship to study in France in 1949, and they lived together in
Paris with their daughter, Sandy, for three one-year periods between then and
1956. At Donald’s suggestion Alma decided
to enroll at Le Cordon Bleu to occupy her time and, as Donald declared,
“...learn to make a sauce. I’m tired of country gravy.”
Alma attended Le Cordon Bleu cooking
classes during the day, and in the evenings she duplicated the dishes she had
made in class at home for Donald and Sandy. If a dish tasted slightly ‘off’ to
her sensitive palate, she worked tirelessly to improve it. She filled several
spiral-bound notebooks with French recipes and mastered hundreds of different
sauces before earning her diploma in 1956.