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Remembering Colette Rossant

Colette Rossant in her kitchen in Manhattan in 1981.

Last October, Colette Rossant—author, cooking teacher, restaurateur and a longtime friend of Glynwood—died at age 91 after a long and full life. Colette had a singular influence on Glynwood’s Regional Food Programs inspiring us to support the regional identity and food culture of the Hudson Valley through cultural exchanges and building markets for local products.

“Her life story has so many chapters and elements”, said Sara Grady, former VP of Programs at Glynwood. Her website documents her extraordinary body of work,  several cookbooks and memoirs. “She was so entertaining, eager to share, writing, cooking, meals, and projects. She was enlivened and capable of sharing that enthusiasm. What she triggered is a much bigger legacy. I would attribute Regional Food Programs to Colette’s vision".

Colette, raised in Paris and Cairo, lived most of her adult life in New York. She and her husband James Conklin, an architect and urban planner, had a residence in Claverack, New York as well as a home in Le Perche in the Normandy region of France. On their drives back and forth from the city to upstate, Colette saw Hudson Valley apple growers going out of business because they were unable to compete in a globalized market. 

She was struck by the similarities between the Hudson Valley and Le Perche and suggested that Glynwood host an exchange between apple growers and cider makers in Normandy and the Hudson Valley. The now legendary trip happened in 2010, culminating in a first of its kind trade tasting that led to the annual festivities of Cider Week New York. These activities formed the foundation of Glynwood’s Cider Project, which has gone on to incubate and launch the New York Cider Association, inspire two additional international exchanges for cider makers and chefs, and lead the largest citizen-science trials of cider apple trees and fruit performance in fermentation in the world. 

Colette’s legacy continues to inspire Glynwood’s work to build markets and movements in small grains, CSA, humanely raised livestock, and more, both in our region and beyond.

Levons un verre du cidre à Colette!  (Let’s raise a glass of cider to Colette!)

Photo Credit: Sara Krulwich/New York Times