In 1979, Dr. Morris J.W. Gaebe, then-chancellor of Johnson & Wales University recognized that the nation’s future culinarians would benefit from a window into their gastronomic past before contributing to the cuisine of the future. With this goal in mind, he accepted industrialist Paul Fritzsche’s donation of 7,500 rare historical cookbooks, which were housed in the university library. A decade later educator and restaurateur, Chef Louis Szathmáry, of the Chicago restaurant The Bakery, donated most of his enormous culinary collection. This donation served as the core of the newly-formed Culinary Archives & Museum, absorbing the Fritzsche collection.
Since then, the museum has continued to grow. Now known as the Culinary Arts Museum, its holdings now number in excess of 250,000 pieces, and counting. Additional items come from sources as diverse as chefs, food writers, restaurant owners, food and wine-related corporations, Johnson & Wales University students and their families, and even museum visitors.