Adrian Miller, author of Soul Food: The Surprising Story of an American Cuisine, One Plate at a Time, which won a James Beard Foundation book award—is a certified Kansas City Barbecue Society judge and attorney who worked in the White House as a former special assistant to President Bill Clinton. He lives in Denver, Colorado.
James Beard Award–winning 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, for example, 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 soufflé emerged from the oven. Sorrowfully, but with a cook’s pride, she recalled, “He never ate that soufflé, 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’s “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.