Ira Meyer ’78, Chef/Writer
When Ira Meyer was a student at the CIA, one winter was so cold that the Hudson River did something it never does—it froze. On a lark, he and a few buddies took their cars and did “doughnuts” on the very frozen river. Taking advantage of rare and serendipitous moments like that is the hallmark of the way he lives his life—especially his culinary life.
Take for example the way he started writing cookbooks. He was in Naples, Italy to give a talk about Italian food in America when he and Marcello Garofalo, who had ties to Disney, casually began to talk about a cookbook that would take its inspiration from Disney animated features. And so, Disney Recipes: From Animation to Inspiration came to pass with recipes like Ariel’s “Under the Sea” Tempura and Winnie-the-Pooh’s No-bake Honey Cookies. The two also collaborated on Disney. Piccoli Grandi Cuochi featuring Italian recipes.
His latest cookbook, also for Disney, focuses on healthy recipes for six- to ten-year-olds. The Disney Family Cookbook includes easy-to-make meals are low in fat, low in salt, and are comprised of 50% vegetables, 25% protein, and 25% complex carbohydrates. He contends that it’s important to start educating youngsters early about healthy, flavorful, and fun things to eat.
Meyer worked with the editors and experts at Familyfun Magazine to create a series of cookbooks including Familyfun Parties: 100 Party Plans, Familyfu: Cookies for Christmas, Familyfun: Tricks and Treats, and The Disney Bakery: 30 Magical Recipes.
An emphasis on health and flavor is at the core of his present role as executive chef at Draegers Market in California. He is always up for the challenge of adapting recipes to meet a customer’s dietary needs.
Wherever Ira Meyer works, whether at Café Des Artistes or The Russian Tea Room in New York City, Exxon World Headquarters, Italy giving a lecture, or at Woodlands Market in Marin county, his love for educating, inspiring, and awakening customers to great food is at the core of what he does. These days, he lives by the Pacific Ocean, a body of water that—unlike the Hudson—doesn’t freeze in winter. So it’s in the kitchen where he’ll be on the lookout for the next rare and serendipitous moment that will lead him to a new culinary adventure.