Exhibit Explores Black Cuisine and Its Influence on America

By N. Jamiyla Chisholm Oct 29, 2019

The art of Black cuisine will finally get its due when the Museum of Food and Drink (MOFAD) launches African/American: Making The Nation’s Table. It will be the first exhibition in the country to celebrate the Black chefs, farmers, and food and drink producers who have helped shape American cuisine, MOFAD announced via an emailed statement.

“The goal of African/American is really two-fold; to create a deep appreciation for the profound impact that African Americans have had on American cuisine, and to bring diverse audiences together around a table to celebrate our shared culinary identity,” Peter J. Kim, executive director of MOFAD, said in the statement. “We are profoundly grateful to The Africa Center for providing us the space and the guidance to share these absolutely crucial, undersung stories.”

Curated by Jessica B. Harris, an expert on the foods of the African diaspora, the exhibition will highlight the influence of African culture around the world. In addition to food, visitors will also see the Legacy Quilt, with its 400 squares that represent 400 Black culinary innovators, and learn about enslaved rice farmers, enslaved chef James Hemings, whisky distiller Nathan “Nearest” Green and Dooky Chase owner Leah Chase. The restored Ebony Test Kitchen anchors the exhibition and Questlove will curate the music.

“In the 400-plus years since enslaved Africans first arrived on the North American continent, African Americans have been the bedrock of American cuisine,” Harris said in the statement. “For centuries, we worked the fields, harvested the crops, wrote the recipes, brewed the beer, distilled the whiskey, cooked the food, set the table, served the food, cleared the table and emptied the chamber pots. In so doing, we made this nation's table—and our influence continues today.”

The museum plans to debut African/American in February 2020 and has launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funding. Click here to watch a video about the project.