Cipe Pineles was born in Austria in 1908. She immigrated with her mother and sisters to New York in 1915, already knowing she had an affinity for creative pursuits. An essay she penned about her departure from Eastern Europe and her arrival in the United States won an award from The Atlantic Monthly. Her talent and intelligence were evident from an early age.
In 1926, she enrolled at Pratt in Brooklyn, where she studied fine art. Even in her early paintings, her love of food appears—images of bread and chocolate rendered in watercolor. But her career began in the commercial realm and continued to anchor itself primarily in print media and client work, even as she privately kept books full of ingredients and recipes. She managed to bring both her own food-related work and that of others into her art direction for magazines such as Seventeen, Charm, Glamour, Vogue, and Vanity Fair. A painting she created of potatoes, which bordered a spread on the simple starch in Seventeen Magazine, won an award from the Art Directors' Club in 1948.
Cipe was a pioneer, not only because she was a woman in a typically male profession, but because she had a vision for innovation and wasn't afraid to make it real. She was the first art director at a magazine to commit to assigning fine artists for editorial illustration—a previously unusual practice—and it was under her direction that such celebrated names as Andy Warhol and Ben Shahn began creating spot illustrations to accompany stories (Warhol, in fact, illustrated many food stories and cookbooks in his day).
Pineles worked at Conde Nast for many years, and simultaneously taught in the design department at Parsons. She continued to teach well into her later years, and was celebrated many times over for the projects she spearheaded with her class, creating books of recipes and narratives about food, from the Parsons Bread Book—a collection of tales about New York bakeries; to Cheap Eats, which featured both art and recipes from famous creatives of that era.
Cipe was part of a community of wildly talented designers, art directors, editors, and artists; and she is often remembered for the wonderful parties she'd throw for all her friends and acquaintances. She was more likely to serve food informed by the culinary trends of New York at that time than to prepare the traditional Jewish foods of her youth, but it is clear from the sketchbook that launched this project, Cipe had a permanent, well-warmed place in her heart for the food her mother cooked. From the title of the book, one might guess that it was these foods she considered her greatest comfort—something she could turn to when she was alone to find joy and inspiration.