ABOUT THIS PROGRAM

Experience an informative and entertaining presentation that will leave you with a unique perspective on the American presidency.

The evening features a talk and Q&A with James Beard Award-winning author Adrian Miller on the fascinating African-Americans who have served in the presidential kitchen, followed by a special reception featuring:

  • An inspired culinary experience—multiple food stations with small bites—by Soul Food Sessions Chef Greg Collier, proprietor of The Yolk.
  • Book signing for both The President’s Kitchen Cabinet and Soul Food: The Surprising Story of an American Cuisine

Enjoy delicacies based on presidential recipes as you delve into the lives of the chefs who fed Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Harrison, Roosevelt, Johnson and Obama. Learn how food played an important role in major White House events through the stories of more than 150 black men and women who cooked in the White House kitchen throughout history.

About The Presenter

Known as The Soul Food Scholar, Adrian Miller is a food writer, attorney and certified barbecue judge. He is the James Beard Award-winning author of Soul Food: The Surprising Story of an American Cuisine, One Plate at a Time. His second book, The President’s Kitchen Cabinet: The Story of the African Americans Who Have Fed Our First Families, From the Washingtons to the Obamas was published on President's Day, 2017. It was a finalist for a 2018 NAACP Image Award for "Outstanding Literary Work—Non-Fiction" and the 2018 Colorado Book Award for History.

Miller is a graduate of Stanford University and Georgetown University Law School. He lives in Denver, CO and is executive director of the Colorado Council of Churches and, as such, is the first African American and the first layperson to hold that position. Miller previously served as a senior policy analyst for Colorado governor Bill Ritter Jr. and was a special assistant to President Bill Clinton. He is also a past board member of the Southern Foodways Alliance.

About Adrian Miller's Books

The President’s Kitchen Cabinet: The Story of the African Americans Who Have Fed Our First Families, from the Washingtons to the Obamas

Author Adrian Miller vividly tells the stories of the African Americans who worked in the presidential food service as chefs, personal cooks, butlers, stewards and servers for every First Family since George and Martha Washington. Miller brings together the names and words of more than 150 black men and women who played remarkable roles in unforgettable events in the nation's history. Daisy McAfee Bonner, FDR's cook at his Warm Springs retreat, described the president's final day on earth in 1945, when he was struck down just as his lunchtime cheese souffle emerged from the oven. Sorrowfully, but with a cook's pride, she recalled, "He never ate that souffle, but it never fell until the minute he died."

A treasury of information about cooking techniques and equipment, the book includes twenty recipes for which black chefs were celebrated. From Samuel Fraunces "onions done in the Brazilian way" for George Washington to Zephyr Wright's popovers, beloved by LBJ's family, Miller highlights African Americans' contributions to our shared American foodways. Surveying the labor of enslaved people during the antebellum period and the gradual opening of employment after Emancipation, Miller highlights how food-related work slowly became professionalized and the important part African Americans played in that process. His chronicle of the daily table in the White House proclaims a fascinating new American story.

Soul Food: The Surprising Story of an American Cuisine, One Plate at a Time—2014 James Beard Foundation Book Award Winner for Reference and Scholarship.

In this insightful and eclectic history, Adrian Miller delves into the influences, ingredients, and innovations that make up the soul food tradition. Focusing each chapter on the culinary and social history of one dish—such as fried chicken, chitlins, yams, greens, and "red drinks” --Miller uncovers how it appeared on the soul food plate and what it means for African American culture and identity.

Miller argues that the story is more complex and surprising than commonly thought. Four centuries in the making, and fusing European, Native American, and West African cuisines, soul food--in all its fried, pork-infused, and sugary glory--is but one aspect of African American culinary heritage. Miller discusses how soul food has become incorporated into American culture and explores its connections to identity politics, bad health raps, and healthier alternatives. This refreshing look at one of America's most celebrated, mythologized, and maligned cuisines is enriched by spirited sidebars, photographs, and twenty-two recipes.

About Heritage & History

The Harvey B. Gantt Center is a proud partner with Duke Energy in presenting our 2018-2019 Heritage & History series. This program series features nationally noted artists and scholars who are preserving Black culture through an array of disciplines and media. In hosting each culture keeper, the Gantt Center invites public participation in special events and experiences that illuminate important stories and engage audiences.

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