Cookbook author and cooking instructor Simone "Simca" Beck was born in Normandy, France, in 1904. Except for a few years spent learning bookbinding and a brief career as a sales representative for the family silicate business, through which she met her second husband, SB's career was devoted to food. As a young girl, she enjoyed helping the family cook, occasionally preparing desserts or even entire meals. In 1933, as her marriage to Jacques Jarlaud was coming to an end, SB began to take classes at the Cordon Bleu in Paris. She married Jean Victor Fischbacher in 1937, retaining her maiden name as a nom de plume and professionally, but using her husband(s name socially.
SB's professional career as a cook and teacher began after World War II, and after she had joined the Cercle des Gourmettes, an exclusive women's culinary club. As her experience and responsibilities as a member of the club increased, SB found herself increasingly involved in the culinary world. Louisette Bertholle (LB) inspired her to write a cookbook for Americans and her husband encouraged her. After an unsuccessful attempt at writing a full-length cookbook, SB and LB published the brief What's Cooking in France? in 1952. This was followed by the booklet, Le Pruneau Devant le Forneau: Recettes de Cuisine (ca. 1952), SB's only publication in French (for a copy, see Avis DeVoto Papers, A-167, #36). After SB met Julia Child (JC) in 1949, the idea of writing a French cookbook for Americans was rekindled. She wrote Mastering the Art of French Cooking with JC and LB; it was published in 1961. Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. II (with JC) followed in 1970.
Both LB and JC became members of the Cercle des Gourmettes. Within a few years of meeting, SB, LB, and JC formed l'Ecole des Trois Gourmandes to give lessons in French cooking to American women living in Paris. The school continued, on and off, into the late 1970s. While JC became a successful television chef in the United States, SB continued teaching at home. Some of her students were already successful chefs; others became well-known chefs. In 1972 she published her own cookbook, Simca's Cuisine (with Patricia Simon), using, among others, some of the recipes that had not been included in her previous books with JC and LB. She published the second volume, New Menus from Simca's Cuisine in 1979 with Michael James (MJ), since 1970 her student, friend, and assistant. Food and Friends: Recipes and Memories from Simca's Cuisine, her autobiography and last cookbook (with Suzy Patterson), was published in 1991.