REBECCA MARSHALL, winner of the second International Culinary Fellowship, is living disproof of the myth that women aren't strong enough to take the heat of a professional kitchen.Myth? It's a canard. If there's a job in food preparation that 's too heavy for this 4-foot-10 90-pounder, nobody's found it yet.
Speaking of her work in restaurants, Marshall says, "Between 5:30 and 6:30 in the morning every day, I lifted 2,000 pounds of food. It was in 12-pound bags, but it still counts." She has learned to use her strength to maximum effect, like a dancer or gymnast.
The fellowship will take Marshall to La Varenne, the Paris cooking school that is currently challenging the long supremacy of the Cordon Bleu for top recognition in culinary education. She will have 4 1/2 months of classes with the faculty of leading chefs brought together by Anne Willan, the British-born founder of the school who was, for several years, a Washington food writer. After that, Marshall would like a brief period behind the scenes in one of the fine French restaurants before coming home to resume her career as a cook.
La Varenne will be her first cooking school. Applicants for the fellowship, sponsored by Julia Child and the Permanent Charity Fund of Boston, were required to have only a college degree and three or four years of hands-on apprenticeship in food preparation.
Marshall's University of Virginia degree in classics, supplemented by experience at the C & O, a French restaurant in Charlottesville, Va., met the standards. And she came out on top in the final exam, which was to cook a meal for Julia Child.
How does a student of Latin and Greek get from the library to the kitchen? This one discovered her love for food preparation by working her way through college. A restaurant job seemed the easiest way to earn the money she needed for school expenses. She carried a full course load and a full-time cooking job as well. When the time came to think about a lifetime profession, the opportunities in the food world impressed her more than her chances of making a living as a classics scholar. Besides, she was in love with the active and creative life of the kitchen.
Unlike many people with her tastes, she has never confronted the customer directly by waiting on tables. She prefers to exercise her skills behind the scenes, inventing new dishes and perfecting old ones. She has worked out new versions of several pa te's and pastries at Sutton Place Gourmet, where she will be until her departure for France next week.
The dishes Rebecca Marshall developed for Julia Child show her versatility. A cook who is always attentive to presentation, she notes that the soup that began the crucial meal is orange and frothy. The sweetbreads, with their accents of green zucchini and red pepper, were served on a blue and white platter
Here is her winning menu. Cantaloupe Soup Sweetbreads with peppers and zucchini Fresh tomatoes with herbs and vinaigrette sauce Raspberry charlotte
CANTALOUPE SOUP (4 servings) 2 ripe cantaloupes 1 ripe honeydew melon Juice of 1 lime Splash of champagne Pure'e melons, add lime juice and champagne, stir and serve.
MARSHALL SWEETBREADS (2 servings) 1 pair veal sweetbreads, blanched in boiling water and 2 tablespoons vinegar 1/2 cup milk 1/2 cup flour 1 egg yolk 1/4 cup bread crumbs 1/2 cup hazelnuts, ground 1 cup olive oil 2 medium zucchini, sliced 1 sweet red pepper, sliced
When sweetbreads have been blanched 10 minutes, drain and cool. Refrigerate overnight in a bowl with a weight on it -- a heavy frying pan will do. The next day, separate nuggets of sweetbreads from membrane. Discard membranes and dip sweetbreads in milk. Roll in flour to coat thoroughly. Beat egg yolk lightly and coat sweetbreads with it. Roll in a mixture of bread crumbs and hazelnuts. Deep fry in olive oil until golden brown. Drain, and saute' zucchini and peppers in 2 tablespoons of the oil. Arrange sweetbread nuggets on platter and decorate with zucchini and peppers.
RASPBERRY CHARLOTTE (6 servings) 10-ounce package frozen raspberries 2 tablespoons creme de cassis 4 egg whites 1 1/2 cups sugar 2 packages unflavored gelatin 1 cup whipping cream
Ladyfingers: 4 eggs, separated 1/2 cup sugar 1 cup flour Flour and butter for baking dish 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
Pure'e slightly thawed raspberries with cassis in a blender or food processor. Strain out seeds. In a bowl, beat egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Cook sugar in 2 tablespoons water until it forms a firm ball when dropped in cold water. Add gelatin to sugar and stir to melt. Whip cream until stiff and fold in sugar mixture and raspberries. Turn into a 2-quart mold. Chill in refrigerator 2 hours or more until gelatin is set. Meanwhile, make ladyfingers
In a bowl, beat egg yolks and sugar until thick and pale. In another bowl, beat egg whites stiff. Fold in egg yolks and flour. Pipe through a pastry bag with a large, plain nozzle onto a buttered and floured baking sheet. Sift half of confectioners' sugar over top. Let stand 5 minutes and sift remaining sugar over top. Place a pie pan with 1/2 cup of water in it in the bottom of the oven. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake at 300 degrees for 12 minutes. Remove ladyfingers from sheet to wire rack. Cool.
To assemble charlotte, unmold raspberry mixture on a serving dish and surround with ladyfingers standing upright. Decorate with pipings of more whipped cream if desired