Patricia Rain is an author, educator, culinary historian, and owner of The Vanilla Company, a socially conscious, product-driven information and education site dedicated to the promotion of pure, natural vanilla, and the support of vanilla farmers worldwide. The Vanilla Cookbook (Celestial Arts, 1986) established her as an authority on this exotic rainforest product. She has continued to do research on the uses of vanilla in a diverse variety of applications: as a flavor in both sweet and savory foods; as a medicinal; as a fragrance; and in aromatherapy. The Vanilla Chef (Vanilla Queen Press, 2002) is a companion book to the Internet business. Vanilla: The Cultural History of The World’s Favorite Flavor and Fragrance (Tarcher, a member of the US Penguin Group, 2004) is her most recent book.
MAJOR INDUSTRY PRESENTATIONS
- World Orchid Society Conference, November, 2017, Guayaquil, Ecuador. Slide Show and Lecture on Six Sustainable Vanilla Plantations and why they matter.
- Commonwealth Club: October, 2005. Slide show and lecture on the vanilla-growing regions and the political issues facing growers. Reception with vanilla desserts.
- Smithsonian Institution: February 11, 12, 2005. Two events in conjunction with the orchid display and events. Lectures and slide presentation on the faces and places of vanilla worldwide, book signing, and interactive table.
- Panel Moderator, The Politics of Our Passions: Coffee, Chocolate, and Vanilla. International Association of Culinary Professionals Conference, April 10, 2003, with Bob Stiller, CEO of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, and Robert Steinberg, co-founder of Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker. An overview of Fair Trade, organics, sustainability, and industry issues with regard to these three important tropical products.
- Smithsonian Institution, “Nature’s Jewels: Orchids and Butterflies.” February 22, 2003. A slide presentation on vanilla production worldwide and the farmers who grow it. Interactive exhibit and book signing at day-long program.
- Participant, Expo Flor 2002, Papantla Veracruz, March, 2002. 10 day expo of the vanilla of the state of Vera Cruz Mexico. Worked with individual growers and with the Consejo Veracruzano de la Vainilla. Culinary contest judge and conference speaker.
- Participant, Regional Flavors of Mexico, Culinary Institute of America, St. Helena
November, 1999. Produced an interactive informational display on vanilla and the Mexican vanilla industry, and sampling of products from Veracruz, Mexico.
- Simposios al Rescate de la Vainilla en Veracruz, 1998. Key-note speaker for a series of events and presentations hosted by Gutierrez Zamora and Papantla, Vera Cruz, the two major towns in the vanilla-growing region of Mexico. Additional program hosted by Culturas Populares, the government-funded indigenous peoples agency, Papantla, Vera Cruz.
- A Celebration of Vanilla, 1997. Slide show, interactive discussion, and culinary celebration with four-course meal based around vanilla and additional samplings of vanilla-perfumed foods. Sponsored by San Francisco Professional Food Society.
- Orchids Are Blooming at The Streets of Mayfair, 1997, Coconut Grove, FL. A cultural and culinary presentation of the only edible fruit of the orchid family, produced by the Coconut Grove Chamber of Commerce to promote the South Florida Orchid Society’s International Orchid Show.
- The Vanilla Summit: Taking Everyone’s Favorite Tropical Rainforest Flavor To New Heights, 1995.
A comprehensive overview of both the romantic history and ever-expanding cooking applications of vanilla given at the American Culinary Federation conference, New York City.
- Chocolate and Vanilla: Quintessential Flavors of the Americas, 1995.
A standing-room-only joint seminar and workshop given with Elaine Gonzalez at the International Association of Culinary Professionals conference, San Antonio, Texas.
- El Encuentro de las Dos Comidas 1492 – 1992 (The Encounter of Two Food Traditions, 1492 – 1992), Puebla, Mexico. The quincentennial celebration of the crossover of the Old and New World foods, sponsored by the University of Mexico. A book of the same name and containing the essays of the food historians, anthropologists, economists, and ethnobotanists who presented at this conference, was published by the University of Mexico in 1996.
- Chilies to Chocolate: Foods the Americas Gave the World, 1988. An enormously successful program produced by the California Academy of Sciences to showcase native New World foods that have become global staples. Ms. Rain was one of the few original presenters chosen to contribute to the subsequently published book of the same title (University of Arizona Press, 1992), containing essays by renowned food anthropologists.
ARTICLES, BOOKS AND INTERVIEWS
Ms. Rain does culinary presentations for food professionals, cooking schools, trade shows, food fairs, and private groups, and is a regular radio and TV guest. She has written articles for mainstream and trade publications, chapters for academic books, and has been the primary interview source for both mainstream and academic materials. Her book, Vanilla: The Cultural History of the World’s Favorite Flavor and Fragrance, (Tarcher; a Subsidiary of Penguin, 2004) traces vanilla’s history from Mesoamerica into the present.
Additional food-related books by Patricia Rain include The Artichoke Cookbook and Pea Soup Andersen’s Scandinavian-American Cookbook, published by Celestial Arts.
Ms. Rain has assisted a diverse group of clients, including USAID, The Secretary of Agriculture and Fisheries, Vera Cruz, Mexico; El Consejo Veracruzano de la Vainilla, Vera Cruz, Mexico; Union Agricola Regional de Productores de Vainilla, Papantla, Vera Cruz; Turin Chocolates, Mexico City; PULSAR, Mexico City; The National Wildlife Federation children’s magazine, Ranger Rick; Tahitian Import/Export, Inc.; and Draeger’s Markets.
In addition to running a wholesale and retail business, Ms. Rain is the voice for small vanilla farmers worldwide, providing information on growing, curing, packaging and shipping vanilla to the world market, providing a forum for networking and representing their needs and concerns through writing and speaking engagements. Additionally, The Vanilla Company is actively working with individuals and groups in vanilla-growing countries to establish projects and to get medical and other needed supplies into rural areas.
Ms. Rain is also a member of the Global Women’s Leadership Network, Santa Clara University. She was in the inaugural program of Women Leaders for the World, and has sponsored several women leaders from the developing world to this program.