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Russell Cronkhite is an accomplished chef, pastry chef, and baker. He began his culinary career more than thirty years ago working and training among some of the best establishments throughout California.

In 1988, he was chosen from a distinguished field of noted American chefs to head the kitchens of Blair House, the President’s guest house. Through his remarkable twelve-year “tour of duty” as Blair House executive chef, Cronkhite served Presidents Reagan, Bush and Clinton and five Secretaries of States. Nearly every major world leader of this generation visited Blair House, including Nelson Mandela, Mother Theresa, Boris Yeltsin, Benazir Bhutto, Yitzhak Rabin, King Hussein of Jordan, Vaclav Havel, the emperor and empress of Japan, Lech Walesa, Margaret Thatcher, François Mitterrand, Hosni Mubarak, Jiang Zemin, Queen Elizabeth II, and Prince Philip. Cronkhite has cooked for all of them.

Cronkhite worked as the recipe editor of Art Culinaire from 1990 through 1992. He has spoken often on culture, cuisine, and protocol, and in 1994 he was invited to be the featured commencement speaker for the New England Culinary Institute. Cronkhite, a frequent contributor to The Washington Post, has also had his work appear in Bon Appétit , Weber’s Big Book of Grilling, Country Living Magazine and USA Today. He is currently a member of the culinary advisory board for the Art Institute of Washington, DC.

In writing his 2004 best-selling cookbook, A Return to Sunday Dinner (more than 50,000 copies sold), Cronkhite recreated his wonderful memories of childhood Sunday gatherings. “As a child we would spend Sundays with my grandparents, often joined by cousins, aunts and uncles. Birthdays and holidays become much anticipated and long-remembered special events. The food my grandmother cooked was simple and plentiful, yet the memories of her table remain clear and strong to this day. I wrote A Return to Sunday Dinner so that new generations of children can experience the long lasting memories of Sunday gettogethers.”

It’s those family memories that prompted Cronkhite to write A Return to Family Picnics, a new collection of mouthwatering recipes that celebrate one of America’s favorite past times. “I believe that picnics of all shapes and sizes are for celebrating food and fun for all. My intention with this book is to help you create the kinds of good times that create memories of a lifetime.”

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