|Richard Olney, considered one of the great authorities on simple French cooking, was, rather improbably, born in Iowa. He attended the university there, then studied in Paris, and finally trained as a painter at the Brooklyn Museum Art School, supporting himself as a waiter in Greenwich Village. When he was 24, he moved permanently to France, where he became intensely involved with the world of food. His books THE FRENCH MENU COOKBOOK and SIMPLE FRENCH FOOD are recognized as classics, not only for their fine recipes but for the elegance of the prose. With 35 books to his credit, Olney also served as an editor for the Time-Life cookbook series. He was an expert on wine and wrote several books on the subject. Something of a recluse, Olney was known as a demanding perfectionist, but his great gift for making difficult, complex recipes easy and accessible endeared him to the world of haute cuisine.