Susan Derecskey was born in New York City and educated at Brooklyn College and the University of Strasbourg. She worked in publishing and journalism until she met a transplanted European journalist named Charles Derecskey, by origin a Hungarian from Transylvania, and embarked on the globe-trotting uncertainties of life with a foreign correspondent. Already an accomplished cook in the French mode, she began to cook Hungarian, first as a treat for her husband, then as a parlor trick, finally as an obsession.
When the Derecskeys returned to the United States, Susan already had an extensive collection of notes and recipes she had accumulated and tested wherever they were: the Congo, Paris, Germany andas culmination Hungary. Here, in the fine restaurants of Budapest and the more modest establishments and homes of Transylvania, she learned how the classic dishes should be made and developed that instinct for the cuisine that separates the gifted cook from the merely skillful one.
Her husband and two young sons cheered her on through the writing of The Hungarian Cookbook. They still gather every summer in the big kitchen at Ledgewood in the Adirondack Mountains, where many of the recipes in the book were put to the test. This annual ceremony of renewal is bound to feature such enshrined favorites as kohlrabi soup and chicken paprikash and one or more of those fabulous Hungarian desserts.