A black chef I never heard of got mentioned on the television show "Top Chef" last month. Apparently she's so famous in some black circles and some Chef circles that there's an exhibit for her at the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
As I'm in the market for a cookbook right about now and it's Black History highlighting time, I thought I'd share this article.
"Lewis’s books helped people understand the sophistication of Southern cooking — “It’s not all fried chicken and greasy greens,” she said in a 1990 Washington Post interview. Though she received many accolades from such culinary groups as the Southern Foodways Alliance and the James Beard Foundation, and influenced many of the most famous Southern chefs today, she wasn’t exactly a household name. Maybe it was because of her no-nonsense demeanor. From the same 1990 Post story: “Lewis’ style is not so much creative as it is recreative, not so much analytical as it is practical. As she said at the opening of her speech [at the Smithsonian]: ‘We’re always cookin’. We never have time to talk about it.'
”But Lewis has gotten more attention in recent years. The New York Times Magazine published a long feature story examining her culinary impact in 2015. The last year saw both the 100th anniversary of her birth and the 40th anniversary of the publication of “The Taste of Country Cooking.” Artifacts of hers were collected for the foodways exhibition at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, which opened last year. And an anthology of essays about her, to be published by the UNC Press, is in the works.
Read More About The Woman
Read More About Her Cookbooks
Lewis(1916-2006) also had a remarkable life story. She was born and grew up in ruralVirginia in an area called Freetown. She learned to cook from an extendedfamily that included grandparents who had been enslaved.
The Edna Lewis Cookbook, Lewis's first book, published in 1972, contains over 100 recipes, arranged in menu form and organized according to the season of the year: Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Christmas. With its focus mostly although not exclusively on Southern food, it began the revival of true Southern cooking.
Lewis went on to publish three more books: The Taste of Country Cooking (1976), In Pursuit of Flavor(1988), and The Gift of Southern Cooking,co-authored with Scott Peacock (2003).Her menus and recipes were featured in a variety ofpublications, including the New YorkTimes, the New York Times Magazine,the Washington Post, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Cook's, House & Garden, andRedbook, among others.