Elizabeth David CBE (born Elizabeth Gwynne; 26 December 1913 – 22 May 1992) was a British cookery writer who, in the mid-20th century, strongly influenced the revitalisation of the art of home cookery with articles and books about European cuisines and traditional British dishes.
Born to an upper-class family, David rebelled against social norms of the day. She studied art in Paris, became an actress, and ran off with a married man with whom she sailed in a small boat to Greece. They were nearly trapped by the German invasion of Greece in 1940 but escaped to Egypt where they parted. She then worked for the British government, running a library in Cairo. While there she married, but the marriage was not long lived.
After the war, David returned to England, and, dismayed by the gloom and bad food, wrote a series of articles about Mediterranean food that caught the public imagination. Books on French and Italian cuisine followed, and within ten years David was a major influence on British cooking. She was deeply hostile to second-rate cooking and to bogus substitutes for classic dishes and ingredients. She introduced a generation of British cooks to Mediterranean food hitherto barely known in Britain, such as pasta, Parmesan cheese, olive oil, salami, aubergines, red and green peppers, and courgettes.
David opened a shop selling kitchen equipment in the 1960s. It continued to trade under her name after she left it in 1973, but her reputation rests on her articles and her books, which have been constantly reprinted.
She died at her Chelsea home on 22 May 1992, aged 78, and was buried on 28 May at the family church of St Peter's, Folkington.