Laurey Masterton was a lovely girl — a lovely young woman, a beloved, gracious, charming, hearty, magical human being.
Growing up in Vermont in the 1950’s, there were three of us, Laurey the youngest. Our parents carved a successful business out of their rural Inn; we grew up in a world of gracious food, lovingly presented. Our mother, Elsie Masterton, was reaching the fame she deserved as a chef and innovator. Our father John Masterton was older, a gifted attorney, author and speaker, and The Enforcer of table manners. We were his second time around in generating a family, and I’ll bet he was just about done trying to teach another group of little girls to keep their elbows off the table.
Elsie was a talented and delightful author, and chatted on a weekly radio show through the Vermont Extension Service “Farm Paper of the Air.” She traveled widely, hosted cooking schools, presented endlessly — we were aware that other peoples’ mothers never seemed to be off on publicity trips.
Both our parents’ lived ended early, taken by life diseases that just happened to coincide — they passed away in the summer of 1966, three months apart. Laurey, the youngest, had just turned 12. We three sisters tried to stay together, shuffled about between boarding schools, summer jobs, and college, patching together home-like experiences with other peoples’ families until we could create our own again. We had each other, mostly, but we were each on our own fairly early.
Laurey’s life and work was in many ways a paean to that early time, of soft summer evenings, tinkling cocktails, ladies and gentlemen drifting up the lawn to dine.
Laurey adored the life of the Inn, and that longing for a sweet life, of a whole family and a whole home, was part of The Golden Thread which guided her.
After a number of adventures in other work, Laurey was drawn to Asheville, North Carolina, where she developed and grew her catering business, and was an early leader in the development of the now historic downtown. Though fear and doubt and worry also was part of her, she succeeded in keeping afloat in the food business. Many a story of crisis averted, at wedding parties or anniversary dinners — a business where the most important night of someone’s life takes place at a destination venue, on a mountain with limited power and water, where it all gets trucked in, and has to be presented hot and gorgeous and safe to eat. She did it, and everyone loved her.
Laurey was an opinionated and passionate defender of the issues dear to her: fine creative food, ethical living, respect for the community and respect for the product of her crafts, which were multitudinous. We look forward to sharing her stories and her work with you, those who knew her, and those who never met her.
As anyone who loses a loved one can tell you, having your youngest family member come to the end of their life is harder than anything.
Nonetheless, we wish these pages to be joyful; Laurey is a living, breathing, thriving presence.
We, her family, wish you to see her and read her writing, to see her stories again, to hear her voice.
And to get to know our mother’s voice, to read her recipes and learn a little more about those days in Vermont. We were all Elsie’s Daughters, as much as anything.
Thanks for being here with us. ♡