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2 | When Black Chefs Created Plantation Food

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Oct 21, 2019

In 1784, Thomas Jefferson brought the enslaved chef James Hemings, brother of Sally Hemings, with him to France, to train under the French culinary masters of the day. Hemings used what he learned to create a cuisine that was half French, half Virginian, and brought it back to Jefferson's plantation, Monticello.

French fries. Ice cream. Mac and cheese. Meringue. All of these foods came to America through the kitchens at Monticello.

This week, Dan tours those kitchens with three descendants of enslaved Virginians. From left to right: Michael Twitty, culinary historian and historical interpreter, and author of The Cooking Gene; Niya Bates, public historian of slavery and African American life at Monticello; and Gayle Jessup White, community engagement officer at Monticello, as well as a direct descendant of Jefferson's and of enslaved chef Peter Hemings, brother of James and Sally Hemings.

The group unpacks the culinary legacy of the enslaved chefs of Monticello, whose cooking continues to reverberate through every kitchen in America today.

Check out Monticello's website to read more about the enslaved chefs who ran Thomas Jefferson's kitchen – Ursula Granger, James HemingsPeter Hemings, Edith Hern Fossett, and Frances Gillette Hern

Interstitial music in this show by Black Label Music:

- "Dreamin' Long" by Erick Anderson

- "Pong" by Ken Brahmstedt

- "Mouse Song Light" by Ken Brahmstedt

- "Sidewalk Chalk" by Hayley Briasco

- "Rogue Apples" by Karla Dietmeyer and Olivia Diercks

Photo courtesy of Dan Pashman.

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