With zucchini feta pancakes, mushroom strudel, and handwritten instructions on how to carve a fruit salad—complete with doodles and line drawings—Mollie Katzen taught generations of vegetarians not just how to feed themselves, but how to do it in varied, global, and fascinating fashion. The first edition of the Moosewood Cookbook came out in 1974, and has since been considered one of the best (and best-selling) cookbooks ever. Now, as she sells her longtime Bay Area home, the public gets a glimpse of the stunning kitchen, studio, and garden from which she produced, wrote, tested, and illustrated a dozen best-selling cookbooks.
Though the book came out of the New York-based Moosewood Collective, Katzen herself used the money she earned on it to move to California, buying a house just outside of Berkley in 1983. For almost 40 years, Katzen grew her own Enchanted Broccoli Forest, an herb and vegetable garden just outside her kitchen, with a farm table at the center. Paths wander among the charming plants and mature fruit trees, leading into the kitchen where she found inspiration for so many recipes.
The U-shaped kitchen includes colorful green shelves accented by red dual ovens and a sweet breakfast nook in front of a picture window, where Katzen did much of her writing. Though much of the spacious kitchen is humble—nicely appointed but classic—the appliances are top of the line, including a six-burner Viking range with a high-powered hood overhead. Dutch doors lead to a patio, across which is a large laundry room that functioned as Katzen’s pantry, and a writer’s cottage that overlooks the gardens. But Katzen illustrated her book upstairs, in a 400-square-foot studio on the top floor, overlooking the sprawling nature of Tilden Park.
Sadly, today’s budding cookbook writers should probably keep their inspiration in check: the five-bedroom house was built in 1948, and according to public records of the previous sale, Katzen purchased the 3,292 square foot house on the 25,515 square foot property in 1983 for $250,000. In late February, it was listed for sale at $1.95 million dollars, and reportedly sold this week for more than $3.3 million. Still, one can dream.