Patricia Volk    


Family is the world, your very own living microcosm of humanity, with its heroes and victims and martyrs and failures, beauties and gamblers, hawks and lovers, cowards and fakes, dreamers, its steamrollers, and the people who quietly get the job done.

Few people in Patricia Volk's family got the job done quietly. They were a cast of lovable eccentrics who left indelible marks on the world, both in the restaurant industry in which they reigned for decades and elsewhere. There was her great-grandfather Sussman Volk, who first introduced pastrami to the Western world, having procured the recipe in exchange for storing the trunk of a friend who was traveling abroad. Grandfather Herman Morgen owned fourteen highly successful restaurants that epitomized an era of New York's culinary history. His wife Polly boasted "the best legs in Atlantic City, 1916." Patricia's Aunt Ruth made the New York papers when she held a burglar at bay in her home by feeding him jarlsberg and counseling him on his future.

Then there were the inventors. Grandfather Jake devised the wrecking ball, and earned the moniker "the most destructive force on Wall Street." Volk's father, Cecil, dreamt up the six-color retractable pen. During her career in advertising, Patricia named the popular candy bar "Whatchamacallit", as well as the counterpart to the Kiss, the Hershey's Hug. The legacy of the Volk-Morgen family is one rich in spirit and unabashed determination to live life to the fullest.

Stuffed: Adventures of a Restaurant Family is Volk's memoir of her family and of the quirky, ambitious members that comprise it. It reads like a beautifully crafted and well-worn family album, filled with snapshots and anecdotes of the people who've touched the author's life over the years. The collection of heartwarming vignettes--with a few recipes sprinkled throughout-- underscores the unbreakable bonds between food and family, and brilliantly evokes a bygone time and place in New York's history.

In this issue of Bold Type, read an interview with Patricia Volk and an excerpt from Stuffed

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  Photo credit: Marion Ettlinger

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