The President’s Kitchen Cabinet: The Story of the African Americans Who Have Fed Our First Families, from the Washingtons to the Obamas
“[This opus] 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. [The author] brings together the names and words of 150 black men and women who played remarkable roles in unforgettable events in the nation’s history…
A treasury of information about cooking techniques and equipment, the book includes 20 recipes for which black chefs were celebrated. Surveying the labor of enslaved people during the antebellum period and the gradual opening of employment after Emancipation, The President’s Kitchen Cabinet highlights how food-related work slowly became professionalized and the important part African-Americans played in that process.”
— Excerpted from the Bookjacket
In 2013, Lee Daniels released The Butler, a biopic loosely based on the life of Eugene Allen, who worked in the White House for 34 years. Serving every president from Truman to Reagan, he worked his way up from pantry man to maitre d’ by the time he retired in 1986.
All the First Families’ meals have been prepared by a predominately-black staff, and that little-known legacy is the subject of The President’s Kitchen Cabinet. The book was written by Adrian Miller, author of “Soul Food: The Surprising Story of an American Cuisine.” Miller also served as a special assistant to President Bill Clinton.
This new opus is a compelling combination of history and cookbook, as it is not only filled with fascinating anecdotes and photos, but includes a score of mouth-watering recipes you just might like to try out yourself. Besides the aforementioned Allen, among the dozens of White House waiters and chefs revisited here is Daisy McAfee Bonner who prepared a cheese souffle for FDR on the day he died.
Among the dishes this critic found tempting were Grilled Salmon with Farro, Hawaiian French Toast, Baked Macaroni with Cheese, and Jerk Chicken Pita Pizza. A veritable treasure trove of culinary top secrets chock full of enough techniques and equipment to make a state dinner.
Kam Williams is a syndicated film and book critic who writes for 100+ publications around the U.S., Europe, Asia, Africa, Canada and the Caribbean. He is a member of the New York Film Critics Online, the NAACP Image Awards Nominating Committee and Rotten Tomatoes.
In addition to a BA in Black Studies from Cornell, he has an MA in English from Brown, an MBA from The Wharton School, and a JD from Boston University. Kam lives in Princeton, NJ with his wife and son.