In 1951, Kay Shaw Nelson began an extended period of
travel and residence abroad with her husband, then an intelligence officer with
the CIA. Over the years they traveled extensively in the Middle East, Europe,
the Far East, North Africa, North and South America, and the Caribbean islands.
During this time she actively pursued an interest in gastronomy, including
cooking techniques and the lore and history of foods and national specialties.
The author of twenty cookbooks and hundreds of articles in such national publications as the
Washington Post, Gourmet, Woman’s Day, and Family Circle,
Kay Shaw Nelson is a member of the National Press Club, American News Women’s
Club, Les Dames d’Escoffier, Society of Women Geographers, Culinary Historians of Washington, the Living
Legacy of Scotland, the Clan Shaw Society, and the MacAskill Sept Society.
Upon her graduation from Syracuse University in 1948 (B.A. in Russian studies and journalism), she was
employed as a reporter for New Hampshire newspapers (Claremont Daily Eagle
and Manchester Union Leader) before taking a job as an intelligence
officer for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in Washington, D.C. In 1997,
she wrote the introduction “How to Go from Spies to Pies: Operation Gastronomy”
for the best-selling cookbook Spies, Black Ties, & Mango Pies: Stories and
Recipes from CIA Families All Over the World.
As a Scottish-American and daughter of Scottish-Canadian parents, she is proud of her Scottish ancestors,
the Morrisons, MacLeans, MacAskills, and Shaws, from the Isles of Lewis and
Harris. Inspired by several visits to her homeland, she wrote A Bonnie
Scottish Cookbook and The Scottish-Irish Pub and Hearth Cookbook
prior to The Art of Scottish-American Cooking.
Born in Hanover, New Hampshire, Kay Shaw Nelson now lives in Bethesda, Maryland. She is a frequent
lecturer on the history of cookbooks, writers, and travel subjects.