About Maida Heatter

Maida Heatter, cooking instructor and cookbook author, is often referred to as "The Queen of Desserts".  Her first book, "Maida Heatter's Book of Great Desserts" was published in 1974 to great acclaim and she would publish a total of seven books over the next two decades. She is the recipient of three James Beard Foundation Awards and she was inducted into the Who's Who of American Food and Beverage in 1988.

She was born on Long Island, New York. Her father was well-known radio commentator Gabriel Heatter whose popularity rivaled Walter Winchell during the 1940s and 1950s.  Her mother Saidie, was an English teacher and was once a spokeswoman for Blue Bonnet margarine. She has one brother, novelist Basil Heatter.

Maida earned a degree in fashion illustration from the Pratt Institute in New York following high school. She worked for several years at the New York Herald Tribune before her hobby of jewelry-making led her to a second career. She followed her family to Miami Beach in 1951 and married pilot Paul Daniels a few years later (she was previously married to David Evins, a shoe designer, and Ellis Gimble, a stockbroker). Her late daughter from her first marriage, Toni Evins, did the illustrations for her mother's books.

Her detour into the food business came about in the 1960s when she and her husband decided to open a coffee shop. They called it "Inside" and it later turned into a successful restaurant. Maida supplied desserts for the restaurant and they became so popular she started getting requests to conduct baking classes. In 1968, when the Republican Convention was held in Miami, Maida came up with a clever idea of offering elephant meat omelets to convention guests. New York Times food editor Craig Claiborne flew in to get the story and became acquainted with Maida's fabulous desserts. He suggested she write a cookbook and the rest is history.

Maida, who never attended cooking school, credits her mother for her baking skills as well as lots of trial and error. She is known for her meticulous attention to detail and untiring experimentation to get a recipe right. Her warmth, humor and evident love of teaching are what makes her books so wonderful.

Interview with Maida Heatter from NPR (click on "Real Media" under the title).