Colette S. Palacci Rossant was born in Paris but spent most of her childhood in a mansion (still standing) in the Garden City district of Cairo, Egypt, raised by her paternal grandparents and a host of aunts and cousins -- all of whom excelled in the kitchen. Her closest childhood friend was Ahmet, the house cook.
At the age of 15 she returned to Paris to finish her studies and lived with her maternal grandparents. In Paris, under the tutelage of her stepfather, she met numerous French chefs and learned about her French culinary heritage. Then at 22 she married American architect James Rossant and moved to New York.
In 1970, Colette started a cooking school for children that developed into a television show for PBS called Zee Cooking School, which also launched her first of seven cookbooks, Cooking with Colette (Scribners 1975) and two translations of Paul Bocuse. In 1979, she became the Underground Gourmet writer for New York Magazine and in 1982, the Food and Design editor of McCalls. In 1984 she started a new magazine called America Entertains for Time Warner. In 1993, she became a food columnist for the Daily News with a Wednesday column (now available online as "Ask Colette!". In addition, she has also been a culinary partner in two New York restaurants, Buddha Green and Dim Sum Go Go.
She has been nominated for a 1997 James Beard Award for Magazine Feature with Recipes, a 2000 IACP Cookbook Award for her book Memories of A Lost Egypt (originally published by Clarkson Potter in 1999 but now republished by Atria 2004), and a 2002 Thomas Cook Travel Book Award for its UK version Apricots On the Nile (Bloomsbury 2002).
Her children are Marianne (a school designer co-author), Juliette (a journalist and fellow food author), Cecile (an architect and author), and Tomas (also an architect) as well as eight wondrous grandchildren.