Skip to main content

tv   The Presidents Kitchen Cabinet  CSPAN  March 19, 2017 1:45pm-2:55pm EDT

1:45 pm
they can't be solved easily but that with time we can get there and we need to do that for the children so that we don't make mistakes that can't really be remedied later. >> hello there. how are you doing this evening? [applause] >> thank you. good evening and welcome to the center for research and black culture immanage public programs here. thank you for joining us for "between the lines." the book "the president's kitchen cabinet. the story of the americans who have fade the first families from the washingtons to the
1:46 pm
obamas." the center is a one of a kind research institution debt dedicated to collection and interpretation of global black experience and in january the center was named the national historic landmark by the national park service so they know what you all know. she land mack status recognizes the vast collection of materials that represent the history and culture of people to of african descent and our exhibitions, film screenings and conversation wes have woven the narrative that shapes our nation and world and we hope you are able to explore our archival collection which has over ten million items and come here for the public programs and then visit one of our five divisions to find rare books, photographs other, kinds of collections and other resources.
1:47 pm
so i would tell you about the rest of the program for february but since it's black history month, every mock here the schomburg center. i'll tale you about back mystery month in march have a women's festival. this year we'll feature on evening discussing ella fitzgerald. and performances by women. this event ands conclude found on the schomburg's web site, as well as through event bright by searching schomburg and you can find it in our winter program brochure. i want to say thank you to any schomburg society members we have here. your support -- yes, okay. [applause] >> your support makes it possible for us to deliver consistent, high caliber programming for the low cost or free to be public. before we turn to tight's
1:48 pm
program i'll ask everyone to silence your cell phones and no flash photography or video and before have a chance to dues you tower penal a's i'll bring out kevin young, the director of the schomburg center. >> hello, hello. we're very committed to have adrian here and have you all here. the good looking crowd out there. she told you in the good news. we have national historic landmark status, which we're delighted by. we have the black power show up right now and we're almost done with our renovation, which has been going on over a year, and we really are excited for the new spaces and to have you come warm them up with us. there was a moment ago that it was going maybe be -- come out here and say i'm tawnya hopkins and conduct some of the interview with adrian, who i've known a while, and as a
1:49 pm
brilliant food writer. the soul food scholar, but i'm going to turn it over the stage to adrian and ton tonya and welcome again. thank you. [applause] >> let me introduce you paternalists. adderall dan mill iris a recovering lawyer who worked as a special assistant to president bill clinton witch all know some of those. right? today he is a culinary historian. his first book, soul food, the surprising story of an american cuisine was pushed in august of 2013. soul food won the 2014 james beard foundation book award for reference in scholarship himself second become i, the one featured tonight this pre resident's kitchen cabinet -- a certified kansas city barbecue society judge and a former southern food alliance board member. leading us through the conversation is tonya hopkins
1:50 pm
whose career ban in marketing as a qualitative researcher for food, wine, and premium spirits and the experiences field her perspective on ethnic and mainstream foot cool -- follow kole culture. and the food -- a multimedia platform through which she also provided historic and contemporary culinary consulting and content. narrated historic dinners, tastings and events. as co founder of the nonprofit james hemings foundation, she is a food historian and a wine specialist for historically inspired dinners including the june 2016 james beard house event based on the 1790 reconciliation dinner, prepared by james hemings who send set
1:51 pm
the table for america's future. welcome adrian hiller and tonya hopkins. [applause] >> everybody knows me and my bags. adrian. >> what's up. >> long time no see. >> right. i know it's been a while. >> first time i met this brother, y'all, was at southern food conference -- in mississippi. >> i don't remember. i don't recall. >> host: you don't remember when i tell this story. >> guest: i know. >> host: he tells the story, i'm call excitement my to first one, 15 years ago, and i'm like, what is this brother going to talk about? and he tells the story about the long lost delicacy of possum. >> guest: that's right. >> host: i was like, what his talking about? and but turns out that was great. and i actually refer to that.
1:52 pm
i give you props. >> guest: see? possum and taters. 100 years ago. that was the dish, believe it or not. >> host: apparently it was. people looking for long lost soul food recipes, don't overlook the possum. so, tonight we're here to talk about your latest book which i have in my security bag here, "the president's cabinet." untold stories of african-americans who have fade our families from the washingtons to the obamas. and i thought it was interesting you worked in the white house and you said you didn't even -- never went into the kitchen? >> guest: well no; i'm the kind of dude if i'm not supposed to be someplace i'm not going. and the white house is not a place to wander around. if youon't need to bthere. but i worked in something called the president's initiative for one americaout have never heard of it but it was an outgrowth of president clinton's initiative
1:53 pm
on race. if if we actually talked to one another and listened might find out we have loot more in common. that went on for a year and a half and then after that, the board that ran that, including the john franklin recommended there be an ongoing office in the white house to deal with racial reconciliation. >> host: when you start lead to search -- how many years -- a long time. >> guest: this book was eight years in the making, and really what ininexpired me to do it was unemployment. >> host: as always. >> guest: so, the change of an administration, what happens if you're a political appointee -- the way i got the job is the old farced way. knew someone. so a friend of mine at georgetown law school called me up while i was practicing law in denver -- not to dispager any attorneys in the officer but a
1:54 pm
practicing law was not for me. was singing spirituals in my office. so i figure shy do something out. so, in this funk, while i was thinking about opening up a soul food restaurant in denver the called me and described the initiative for one america, and so i decide the same thing that dick cheny did when george w. bush asked him to find the president. was head of the search committee and only submitted my name. that's how i got it. so, we get to the end of the administration, as appointee you write your letter of resignation and shockingly george bush accepted misresignation. i was unemployed and the job market was soft and i was watching a lot of daytime television. so, i thought to myself, should read something. so within to the book store and got book on the history of southern food and that book was southern food at home on the road and history. and in that book he said the
1:55 pm
tribute to a african-american achievement in cookery has led to be written. this book was ten years old when i got it. he said no one has taken on that project, and so that led to the -- my first book on the history of soul food, and it was while i was reading sources for that book that i discovered these african-americans who have cooked for four presidents, including some written by schomburg in the 1920s. he was going to write a history of african-american cook and can talks about the -- >> host: found schomburg center. >> yes. >> guest: yes, an early source was something he type up. >> host: there are also if you dig into dubois or always -- a lot of. the actually did have a lot of work related to food and i know that the voice of this whole
1:56 pm
extensive study on the black caters of philadelphia and you touch on that, too, the caterers of washington, dc and how that was a pathway of newman for black people, or wealth and status and class that still trickles in to today. you said the -- no one had done the piece about african-american accomplishments. is it one piece? there's so much connection to america food waste unlike any other. i think we have -- so, even this book, you have this book is -- doesn't look that thick but it is packed full with stories and people and -- 44 administrations. all the different people who are involved but so many -- this could be door there could be another -- i don't know -- 50 books. >> guest: 50? >> a million books written from the stories in here. >> guest: the thing about the
1:57 pm
african-american presidential history in terms of the cooks is -- a lot is fragments because in the 18th and 19th 19th century, even the 20th 20th century, the african-americans were looked down upon and servitude positions were something african-americans were bon to do so the historical sources -- you only get references to negro cook or colored cook. they didn't even take the time put out the person's full name. so it's remarkable that we see a burn's full name in some supports and get the 20th 20th century, it's better. but cooking was not the glamorous think it is today. one of the few professions that african-americans could pursue and excel at without garnering white backlash so what is going on in the white house kitchen mirrors the broader society. >> host: not just about our place, all of that, but also
1:58 pm
very clear that they are feeling our food, and that you talk about times when white cooks have been fired to rehire black cooks and so forth. so there's also a skill and talent element to this whole lore of the mythical -- amazing black cooks. love in the beginning you say how there are cooks who are -- what you call is -- dump cooks, scratch cooks, who have more offer the. -- -- improve cook. >> guest: if you're a scratch cook, your pains or somebody in your families is like that. they don't mess sure and when you try to get a recipe they have an attitude.
1:59 pm
have to have everything set out so i know i have my ingredient and is they're properly measured. >> host: that's how you approached the book. >> gst: decided to show all of the key ingredients to presidential food ways, city study of the food culture and what dealed with the president directly, what involved people around the., and then the things beyond the president's control, like congress, or the public perception of the president. shows how they all interact. >> host: that very moveddal approach yielded a very detailed, fact-based story-filled bees of work which is phenomenal. everybody was like, you don't have to read the whole book. just skim it. i'm like, no, i want to read the full book. it's fascinating. i want to get a read dash any other scratch cooks -- a feel for the scratch cooks. can it get some hands for
2:00 pm
scratch? >> guest: okay. my tribe is much smaller. >> host: in black world. >> guest: yeah. we'll talk about that. >> guest: i don't. >> host: i don't know, gosh you. you have some slide snooze what you're saying i snipnets from the interesting personality. the the its in person was samuel -- the steward for president washington and saw that picture and thought he looks like white dude there would as loaf heated debate about his race but quite a few of his descene dents believe he was biracial and had african heritage. i showercules, the enslaved cook for george george george and escaped on george washington 's birthday. >> so she escapes a identify years before hercules does and
2:01 pm
what is interesting it that is a portrait that is hanging in a museum in madrid, spain, and the title of the portrait is: a cook for. >> george baz and the maintainerrer is gilbert stewart, the painter of the iconic portrait of washington. and the chef he hays is one that would be -- apron is one that would be worn by an european judge and seeing how what happened with one judge and -- you read the letters he tries to get hercules after he escapes you think of the song from "frozen," left it go? he cannot left it go makes sense that hercules goes oversees. the safest thing to do imade may money selling scraps -- the story as you know in food
2:02 pm
history there are stories and then there are facts and history and sometimes they are hard to discern but we -- i had learned that he sold -- such a great cook that people -- was able to sell meals a stuff to pele but the piece about the scraps. >> guest: a lot of chefs sometimes the employer would give them the liberty to sell the scrap because people would use them to make candles or repurpose those things. >> host: the tea leaves from inside the tea bag. >> guest: right. this brother's cooking was so good he made $5,000 a year and $2,015 in terms of what he was selling and he would actually buy fancy clothes, a gold cane, and washington give him liberties so after the worked he would put on the blue suit with the gold cane and walk around philadelphia and aloud to go to opera.
2:03 pm
>> host: and he was trying to be free. this whole mythology about the happy slave and the propaganda around that in society, to make people believe slavery wasn't so bad. >> guest: right. >> host: with all these liberties and perks, he still was like, i'm out, and he took -- we believe he makes his way. ... .... .... &%c1
2:04 pm
>> guest: what washington would do to get around this is right about the time the six month came, he would pack up the enslaved people, send them back to mount vernon, keep them there for a few week and bring them back to start the clock over again. he did this throughout his two terms. toward the end of this second term, he sends hercules back, not to the mount vernon kitchen, but into the field to make bricks and do hard labor and that is what spurs hercules to make the dash for freedom. >> host: after he escapes, washington writes letter like my cook is gone, i need my cook back, the house will fall apart. >> guest: i know. he is going through the five stages of grief if you read the letters in sequence.
2:05 pm
then the letters from martha washington read like something from the real house wives of old virginia. thanks for ling at that joke. i worked hard on that one. >> guest: i guess it was a punishment but i wonder if hercules knew it was and that is what spurred him to be like i am out of here. >> guest: the precipitating event is washington expected hercules was going to escape with some of his family members. one of his sons was caught stealing money out of a backpack and believed that was going to finance an escape attempt. >> host: before we move on to the other important person, i found it interesting this character who is george washington's nephew or whatever,
2:06 pm
luckily for us and the sake of the research, documents in detail about hercules' artistry and talent. it sounded like an early bro-mance where he was going on and all about hercules. >> guest: george washington custard is washington's grand son and we get a since of hercules' personal through him. he had a biracial staff. >> host: multi racial? white and black people? >> guest: yes. he had enslaved africans from mount vernons and endentured whites in the kitchen and his boss was a white man. evidently hercules was temperamental as a chef.
2:07 pm
i think he would feel a kinship with gordon ramsey. but he talked about the servants flying at his instructions and if he messed up he would go off on them. >> host: who else? >> guest: another interesting woman is laura. >> host: wait, talk about james before we go to laura. >> guest: one is james hemmings. >> host: he is thomas jefferson's chef before becoming president and cooked for him in the summer of 1801 in mont cello not in the white house. >> guest: jefferson was appointed to be minister of france and takes hemming to france with him and has him trained as a classical french chef for three years and spends a lot to do the is. and he installs hemming --
2:08 pm
>> host: all the money he didn't pay him before. >> guest: after he finishes his training he starts paying hemming and brings him back from paris and he is here in philadelphia. but in the mid 1790s's hemming says i want to be free and jefferson agrees on two conditions. one, you have to teach other enslaved people at mont cell oh to cook and two leave behind your recipes. he does this and he is free on february 5th. you will see the kitchen recipes in his own hand writing. >> host: he was literate in english and french. and one of the co-founders of
2:09 pm
the james hemming association and you can learn about it online and i believe another - co-founder is here and i want to give a shoutout. you also talk about the whole interplay between french cooks and french culinary technique and african-american cookery and the fusion of virginia and french. research shows that james is the first, maybe not the only over time, but maybe the only who trained in france for this, you know, chef to cuisine status. >> guest: right. i think he set the tone for presidential cooking at least through jefferson's presidency. what happens is to enslaved women from mont cello end up
2:10 pm
being assistant chefs in the kitchen. hemming doesn't become chef because he drinked himself to death in 1801. -- drinks. >> host: principle chef ash will be on site in montcello and i alluded to the new information that is surfacing that we believe will provide more dimension to james' story. >> guest: okay. but he does die. we have two enslaved women who are working in the white house kitchen and they, after jefferson's presidency, they are the main cooks at montecello. >> host: you talk about them being trapped in the basement. >> guest: anybody who has been in washington d.c. in july and august. during the summer the white house had a skeleton crew. it is built in a reclaimed swamp
2:11 pm
and people in the white house kitchen would actually get tropical diseases. jefferson wouldn't let those two women go back to their families when they would leave the house during summer break so they had to stay tr there. we seexamples of the husbands trying to escape and jecherson catching them before they get to the white house and returning them. their life was pretty much in the white house basement. there were slave quarters off the main kitchen. >> host: right. they lived and slept there and it was hot. and they are cooking from hearth cookery not modern ranges that you can preheat and turn off. these fires would roar constantly. >> guest: and that hearth cooking there was a fire place with a range on top but another fire place that was open and according to some sources injuries related to hearth
2:12 pm
cooking were the second leading cause of injury to women in the 1800s and 1700s next to pregnancy so that shows you how dangerous that work was. >> host: we can only imagine long, hot iron rods and no pot holders and no ice. >> guest: exactly. >> host: i love how you have stories within stories like the stories about the husbands who were trying to see their wives and how you learn history along the way which is great for those that prefer to learn history through the lens of not just food but a black perspective. i love how you have actual quotes from the people who have worked, cooked and served some of these presidents. you want to talk about some of the dynamic between the presidents and some of the people who served them? >> sure. there are really three main
2:13 pm
themes to the book. one is to show how these african-americans were culinary artists, the second is how they re family confidents and they were civ rights activists. when the activists couldn't get access the president to lay out the agenda they would often go to the cook and ask the cook to whisper in their ear while serving food hoping something would register and the president would move on it. one of the funniest stories involves zephyr right and she was the long time took for lyndon johnson. i would love to sit down with her and talk about her experiences. she was key to this 1964 civil rights act because when johnson was lobbying that bill with members of congress he would use her jim crow experiences.
2:14 pm
back then the family would drive from texas to washington d.c. and wright would ride along with the family and in many instances she was not allowed to go to the bathroom or eat with the family. >> host: she could not go into the restaurants they were stopping at along the way. >> guest: at some point, she refused to go on the trip and lived in washington year-round. the president went off to say it is a shame my cook has to go through this. after he signed this bill he presents her with one of the pens and says you deserve this as much as anyone. one of the things we know about lbj's personality and he would often show up late for dinner and demand to have food right away and she would say sit in the kitchen while i make something and he would do it. another thing is he would often show up late with guests and want dinner made. he would show up at 10:00 with six guests so she would start making the food and send out
2:15 pm
drinks and nobody ever complained. >> host: not surprised. >> guest:ne thing to show how she is an interestinfigure and plays a role in the terms of the perception the president has in food and it is the great chilly controversial of 1964. the white house will put out a recipe for food every once in a while. >> host: to the press? >> guest: yeah, put it out there. there was a recipe for river chilly and it is named after a river running along the johnson ranch in texas. texas chilly has no beans. it is chilly peppers with meat. when this recipe comes out, americans freak out and want to be assured their president loves beans. >> host: beans were big once upon a time.
2:16 pm
>> guest: in the johnson library, he used the recording system in the oval office so it started with kennedy, johnson ramped it up and we know what nixon did. i actually have a clip from the johnson library of zephyr wright lk if we could play that clip: it
2:17 pm
isn't going to play? that is all right. what i did was i transcribed this recipe in the book or this conversation in the book so i will go ahead and read it. the first voice is wanita roberts. it says we have correspondence asking us if the president and first family like beans. i know enough to say yes but i wanted to check with you. what would you say if you were asked? wright says i would say yes and roberts said and? they didn't ask what time but i know he likes pork and beans, pinto beans, lima beans, green beans and that is green limas. green? and the fresh green beans and the blue lake canned green means marinated in french dressing.
2:18 pm
that is not a bean it is a pea but he likes bean. the green baby limas, how do you prepare? salty water, cook them and add a little margarine and pepper and cook them until the juice is kind of thick. use the ve i do that for parties. we use that and mushrooms. you know we call it lima beans with cheese and mushroom sauce and the pinto beans cook with salt, pork and ham bone. do you doctor up the pork and beans? not for them. he likes them plain and douses them with a pepper sauce. do you know where the chilly recipe cards are? somebody has one and i will find it because i need that one also. nice talking to you. okay. thank you a lot. bye.
2:19 pm
v v v velveeta for special occasions. if you get the audio book you can get the tape. >> host: there is an audio book? instead of me staying up all night reading it. >> guest: yes. this shows when the house spins out of control they go to her. another couple stories involve cooks for franklin roosevelt. so, the white house food reputation during roosevelt's administration was horrible. >> host: tell everybody what -- >> guest: 1933. the problem was elenor roosevelt was fundamentally uninterested in food and the first lady usually had a hand in the operation because she knew what her husband liked. she is the one who would save
2:20 pm
the president from themselves because presidents liked to tray from the diet and get comfort and junk food. eleanor met a women in new york and nez beck couldn't cook. >> host: she is a sister? >> guest: no, she was a white woman. the one thing that bothered me is you have this team of african-american cook and they had to put something good out but from memoirs we found out she would stand behind them and correct the seasoning and mess everything up. it was so bad when people got invited to a state dinner at the white house they often ate before they went. two cooning -- two cooks, one named lizzy mcduffy and daisy
2:21 pm
boner who cooked for him when he would go for polio treatment. a wealthy family loaned their african-american cooks to him, this woman named daisy bonner. so if the white house cook was with them they knew the food wouldn't be good. bonner would hook at the president and see if she was not looking healthy then they would bring the food out the first lady or doctor prescribed and as they were putting the plate by him they would whisper don't eat that and fdr faked like he wasn't hungry and once everybody cleared out they would take him back in the kitchen and hook him up with what he wanted. >> host: and there is a sweet
2:22 pm
story where she prepares what would be his last meal. >> guest: the day he dies he is sitting for a portrait and daisy bonner had a cheese sofle to be served at 1:15. fdr has his hemorrhage at 1:12 so the food isn't served and you know what happens when you let a souffle sit around? it falls. daisy bonner said it didn't fall until three hours later when the president was pronounced dead. >> host: it was keeping hope alive that maybe it would be consumed by him after all. >> guest: she was so moved by his death she wrote daisy bonner, cooked first and last meal for presidentros roosevelt.
2:23 pm
she calls the white house switchboard to notify them of her death. she got him hooked on southern food and pigs feet! >> host: that is another one falling off the plate. >> guest: the way he liked it was she would broil and butter them. >> host: as if there is not enough fat content into pig's foot. >> guest: we know from one story he served pigs feet in the white house. >> host: not just to anybody but to the british prime minister. winston churchill. >> guest: he served sweet and sour pig feet to churchill and churchill takes one bite and he said how do you like it and churchill says it is interesting. it has a slimy texture and he is
2:24 pm
like wonderful. you will love them fried. >> host: because he has eaten them so many different ways. >> guest: churchill says i don't think i would like them fried and they both crack up latching. just to show how much he loved pig's feet if you go to warm springs, georgia they preserved the shopping list for the last week of his life and on the shopping list is four hog's feet. >> host: he had the fever. >> guest: i was going to say something else but it is nasty so we will stick with ferve. >> host: how are we doing on time? >> guest: you are the moderator. let's talk about the presidential pickle. the presidential pickle is my metaphor for how we deal with the presidents and food.
2:25 pm
we want presidents to be extraordinary people but want them to be like us and food gives a sense of whether they have the common touch or not. that picture is a cool aid pickle. sometimes a pickle is just a pickle. >> host: but it is read. >> guest: this as a cool aid pickle. anybody know about that? here is the way youake it. you get a jar of already made difficult pickles, take out the top, take out the pickles and make cool aid with the pickle juice and poke holes in the pickle or slice and cut them and put them back in the jar and leave them there for two weeks take them out and eat them. if you like the taste of pickles and of cool aid it is jus a sweet and sour combination. if you don't like either one
2:26 pm
this is one of the nastiest things you will put in your mouth. i actually like them. it is a grate metaphor. fastinating and weird but it gets us to how we feel about the presidency now. -- fascinating. >> host: you did leave off on 44. >> guest: i did because i finished the book before the election. >> host: are you happy or glad? >> guest: well, you know. >> host: it is interesting and i am curious did you get a sense when researching this, the legacy, i know the first century and a half, a lot of these people are the, you know, their
2:27 pm
grandparents and great grandparents were descendants of slaves working in the white house. did you against a sense of if there were legacy families connected to the different staff positions? >> guest: no, most of the legacy families really disappear in the '70s and '80s and '90s. in terms of the white house kitchen, the head cook only becomes executive chef because jacqueline kennedy created that. before they were dominated by african-american women. but when jacqueline kennedy says i want european food by european trained chefs the african-americans in the kitchen didn't have that expertise. >> host: we look at emma lewis who comes around the sa time -- >> guest: right but the ones in the kitchen had not gone through
2:28 pm
the training. wright, the one i talked about, was the last african-american to leave the kitchen and she was an interim because the chef hired und under the kennedy's couldn't handle the johnson. you heard of chilly con queso? he called it chilly concrete. there is a lot of tension. she runs the kitchen and manages to get a raise while he is looking for another chef. the only person offered the job was patrick clark, very well known chef in new york. he was working at the hey adams hotel across the street from the white house but he was auditioning for the job because the clinton's and other staffers came over. he was offered the job but
2:29 pm
turned it down because it was a paycut. he was making a couple thousands at the white house and the white house job for the chef was 58,000. he had four kids so it was easy. >> host: that math and money thing is fascinating. how different administrations and different presidencies that you write about try to present an image of, you know, thrust in the economy like they are not wasting the taxpays thift -- and the extent -- even early. the whole issue with washington and there are people like thomas jefferson who were like whatever i am flying in a chef from italy and went all out and extravagant. >> guest: most people don't know this but before president truman presidents had to pay for their staff and entertaining food out of their own pocket. >> host: that is not too
2:30 pm
difficult because they were all wealthy. >> guest: the ones who were not were creative. lincoln and grant did their shopping at the army commissary rather than using the market. >> host: the whole thing about when they shop openly or on the dl at the market. i asked about the staff and legacy because i heard that, and i don't know if this is real news or fake news, but i heard that president 45 fired the entire staff, people who had history there and they fired everybody who had continuity? real news? fake news? >> guest: i think that is fake. you have holdovers from the obama administration cooking in the kitchen right now because they have not hired anyone. there were three african-americans on staff as
2:31 pm
assistant chefs and they are probably still in the kitchen. no one is commenting so we don't know what is going on. >> host:ou don'tave any insider information? >> guest: i am on the outside looking in. but there is a philippinea who got the job as the white house executive chef during george w. bush's second term and cooked throughout the entire two terms of president obama and as far as i know she is still in that position. >> host: i want to make sure we have enough time for q&a so give me a signal when we want to start that. before we wrap up, want to talk about the obama's. >> guest: the obama's very interesting with the garden and push for healthy eating. there is definitely -- what is interesting about them is they were a couple that ate outside the white house quite a bit and supported the restaurant business. people ask me what happens when
2:32 pm
the president goes to eat outside the white house. >> host: meaning not on a picnic blanket but at a restaurant? a picnic would have been romantic. >> guest: the secret service goes and secure the kitchen of the restaurant and get the social security numbers of everyone there. you have to make sure everybody can be there and nobody else can come in the kitchen after that. reportedly, there is a trained chef on the secret service who stands behind whoever is preparing the president's food -- >> host: make sure there is no cyanide slipped in. >> guest: and they are armed while doing it. if you watch top chef and they talk about an elimination challenge i don't think it compares. >> host: this is a real reality show with the president dining out.
2:33 pm
what else? >> guest: there is one other funny story i would li to share. a lot of the cooks and people involvedn food service are there to make the president comfortable. one of my favorite story involves a guy named alonso fields and he was a long-time butler who becomes mater dee and runs a lot of stuff in the white house. the truman's loved to have a cocktail before eating dinner and their favorite cocktail is an old fashion which is bourbon, rye whiskey, simple syrup, water, bitters and garnished with a citrus usually orange peal. the first they ask for the old fashion, fields makes and bess truman takes a slip and says
2:34 pm
could you make this drier? we are not used to our old fashions being so sweet. he is like next night, reconfigures and drink and tastes and it bess says this tastes like fruit bunch. the next night he decided to serve trait bourbon. >> host: bourbon on the rocks. >> guest: bess truman takes a sip and says that is how we like our old fashion. >> host: tt is another thing i love about this book. the people and the food and some of these recipes are slamming. i don't know about that presidential pickle but the mint pea soup for example, i don't like mint unless it is in a gum or toothpace but that recipe was the bomb. >> that is a laura bush favorite.
2:35 pm
it is on the menu at a restaurant in dallas. it is a great recipe. >> host: there is so much stuff you have. i think there is going to be a time -- did you already have a chance to see the book? go to the book shop or is that happening after this? i highly recommend it. it is really a great read and a great way to learn stuff that is really so sparsely documented. you talked about that and you know, our involvement with the hemming foundation. we are talking about somebody from the most famous enslaved family in american history and the sparse amount of information, no images, pictures, he was literate so where all the recipes he wrote down? were they destroyed or loss? >> guest: my hope is as word gets out about the book, african-american presidential chefs who were shy to share their story will realize they are part of this very rich legacy and will help share the
2:36 pm
stories. i will keep a website going to chronicle the information and have an active database of people by administration. if you look at the book, i write down the names we know of of african-americans who worked for familiar presidents. you will see some administrations have a couple names and some have several. i hope to keep adding to the list so at least we know these people's names. [applae] >> host: yeah, it is so important. so important. that is why we established the foundation and there is so much synergy between what you are doing and we are doing. they sacrificed a lot, contributed a lot. they gave away a lot and took credit for a lot. and you talk about how some of their recipes are not documented but we have to remember books like the virginia house wife are documented by white authors who
2:37 pm
are -- you have to be a detective sometimes to mind where the recipes live on. >> there has been a rivalry between french cooking and french cooks was set as the cooking of enter -- entertaining and highest standards but when they were bragging about our cooking they brought forth the southern cooking. that is why laura johnson is important. she is a free woman, biracial, and has to be talked into working at the white house. roosevelt had johnson's food while traveling around and went to colonel mason's case.
2:38 pm
when benjamin harrison becomes president roosevelt recommends johnson. she comes to work but there is one problem. there is a french woman who had that job. this very french cook had two very american responses. she filled a lawsuit and went to the press. this is the first time that a staffer sues the president and gets resolved. she talked about working for the harrisons but dolly johnson gets the job and is celebrated in headlines all across the country. she is one of the few examples of a took who leaves the white house and trade on her own name to establish a second career. you don't see that a lot with african-americans. >> host: it sounds like they don't disparage her as much. i have a whole different perspective on that but they
2:39 pm
tried to disparage us and put us down but it sounds like they talked about her like a human being. >> guest: somewhat. they dwell on her looks a lot so you feel like it has been written by a teenage boy but they recognize her much more than they do others. >> definitely looking forward to continuing the conversation, not tonight, not right now, we will let you guys ask questions and move on with the rest of the proom. -- afternoon. carry on. >> the question is how did i get the recipes and did i test them? >> can you use the microphone at the back of auditorium? thank you.
2:40 pm
>> guest: it was a combination. i reached out to several presidential chefs and asked if i could use their recipes. a lot come from looking at old cookbooks and old newspapers. some recipes i called family members from the president just to see. i didn't actually get a lot of recipes from them but they poind me in the right direction. i talk today the johnson's eldest daughter and the strongest memory she had of wright's cooking was the pop over. so i included that. i have the state dinner for nelson mandela that patrick clark devised but the clinton's said you are not cooking and you will be an honored guest here. it was a sesame crested halibut with vegetables, red curry and
2:41 pm
lemon grass dressing you can do it at home if you buy my book. another quick recipe is for a young lady named cianna farkish who was colorado's 2014 representative to the kids dinner. first lady michelle obama would have a recipe contest and a winner was picked from every state and the winning recipe had to be healthy. they would get to go to the white house and eat some of the winning entrees. she was one of the toughest interviews to get in the book because i used to date her mother and it didn't end well. >> host: you must be the charmer because you got the interview and there is a picture of her in here as well.
2:42 pm
>> my question is i was wondering if you found out stories of chefs trying to poison some of the presidents? >> guest: you all heard the question. i am used to not having the microphone. no, i don't find any examples in the presidential cooking of enslaved cooks trying to poison the president. this is the frequently asked question who is the taste tester for the president and my quick answer is it is usually the president's strongest critic, no i am kidding. it is usually the chef. the chef is the last person to taste the food before it is put in front of the president. >> host: you mention something about leverage and how different ways or protests and different ways protest might show up over the years. i don't know if you were joking but there was something about poisoning and there are stories,
2:43 pm
not going into the detail here and i don't think it is relevant to the presidential, to your knowledge but you mentioned that. >> i talk about this story that i called the poison pea plot of 1776. really quickly. >> host: it is about an enslaved woman. >> guest: samuel's daughter was cooking a meal for general washington at the same. there was a guy not feeling the revolution and distracted had cooker and adds extra spice to the pea. phoebe thinks something is going on and she goes to talk to her father and he immediately understands what happens and he comes to the kitchen and grabs the peas and throws them at the window and at that precise moment a chicken was walking by,
2:44 pm
takes the peas and dies. thanks to that animal testing they figured out the peas were pois poisoned. it is great story but probably not true. there wasn't anyone named pho n phoebe. thomas hickey was hanged in new york but his crime was counterfeiting. if this story is true, ladies and gentlemen, i submit to you it the first fact of culinary homeland security in our great nation. [applause] >> good evening. i have a question to ask you. is there anything during your research you found surprising and thought you knew and were like this is fascinating? >> guest: i think the thing that was most surprising was just the
2:45 pm
astounding number of cooks that have been in the presidential kitchen. i have uncovered 150 in my research and i know i am scratching the surface. there were a couple fires in the house so i think they have been destroyed. one is we have been there from day one in a continued presence and after you think about it deeply you are like of course. the other part was the civil rights advocate part. i didn't know people outside the white house went to the cook to get to the president. i thought that was pretty fascinating. >> thank you. >> guest: thank you. >> hi, i saw the washington macaroni and cheese dish on the slide. and i know that chef ash bell talks about james hemmings having brought back that recipe from his days in france. to what extent is that particular recipe related to james hemmings?
2:46 pm
and also, to what extent did you find the influence of james hemming throughout the cooking you examined? >> great question. the earliest recipe we know for macaroni and cheese goes back to 1834 and that was for elizabeth the first and richard the second. the earliest versions were pasta, parmesian cheese and butter. we find the old school recipe in the book. >> host: he had several documented recipes because of the artistry and innovation. you talk about adding the cream, butter and extra cheese and all of that but he, you know, he was
2:47 pm
obsessed with testing recipes and doing different versions. ice cream is another one he is linked to. without a doubt, we know that jefferson's kitchen through james cookery is why it became so poplarized things like macaroni and cheese and ice cream.ned so much. it was a high end dish and became a comfort food we take for granted today. >> guest: we know jefferson loved mac and cheese because he served it in the white house on february 6, 1802 and we know this because a dinner guest wrote about it. he was a reverend and a representative to congress from massachusetts. he sees this plate of mac and cheese and has no concept what
2:48 pm
it is. he thought the pasta was giant onions. he asked the guy next to him and explained it to him and that was mary weather lewis of lewis and clark who was at the dinner. after the dinner, jefferson takes them to the east room to look at the great cheese. when he was inaugurated dairy farmers sent him a ton of cheese literally. it was on display and he would go look at the great cheese. >> host: was it moldly? >> guest: yes. when andrew jackson gets elected the same thing happened and he thought he would open the white house, serve white punch and let people have all the cheese they wanted. the white house was tore up. cheese in the carpet and curtains and they said it smells like cheese for months. >> host: was this the first government sponsored cheese?
2:49 pm
>> guest: to answer the second part of your question. jefferson was teesed about having this french, half virginia style. the fact they get this knowledge and impart it on others who would cook for him shows this ongoing legacy of french cooking in the white house. we have alternating presidents. there are some that are big in french food and others don't. james monroe, big fan of french food. >> host: james' training staff had indications the neighboring plantations were being influenced and how it spreads and catches up with the chef that we all -- some people don't know of eddie lewis, who comes to new york in the 1930s and opens up a restaurant and is a huge inflounuence on the
2:50 pm
appreciation of southern cusine. they say the ice cream was like a shake and he finds out to make it firmer and puts it inside baked pastries. all of innovative tech necks that show up -- techniques -- in fine dining restaurants to this day. there is a link between the plantations and that. >> guest: the conversation between french and american food and wine is another way that plays out. the kennedy's got a lot of flack for jacqueline kennedy's insistence on having the state dinner menus printed in french and serving french wines. the white house has a strong policy of serving american wines and lbj takes it to the next
2:51 pm
level saying not only will we serve american wines but every embassy around the world has to serve american wine. >> host: i thought you would say and bourbon. >> guest: yeah. they had a funny reaction to this in france. they said we understand what americans are doing. there are some fine wines that are american but all french wines are great. >> we will take the last question. >> wonderful presentation by both of you. two quickies since it is the last one. >> one! >> a colleague argues tat much of what goes misunderstood in african-american culture occurs because of our inability to understand symbolism. what does food symbolize in the context of the work you do? and relatedly then if music
2:52 pm
becomes the language of the soul what is food? >> guest: i think food is a great connector and a lot of my work is about how we bring different people together through food. food symbolizes a world perspective. if you have someone who is an adventurous eating and curious they are open to a lot of p perspecti perspectives i think it is a window on that person. many times we don't get a sense for who the president is. it is an artificial image put out there but when we get a lookt at how they live, and what they like to eat, it gives us a sense of what we can relate to. we want presidents that are relatable and presidents want to be relatable because it reflects on their public opinion polls.
2:53 pm
if they are unpopular they cannot get their agenda enforced. this conversation feeds upon itself. >> host: no puintended. >> guest: didn't even think about that. >> host: iis a connector i had to pick a symbol and i think you illustrate that. a connection between people who may seem different; presidents and their staff. our connection to ourselves and culture today. a connection to the land, the agricultural aspects of it, a connection to the past, the history to the future, and so it is a very connective symbol. so i hope we answer your questions and thank you for that question. >> as we close out this particular program, i want to remind you all that we are selling books. aidian books in the book shop and we will have a book signing following this. please give our panel a welcomed
2:54 pm
applause. have a good ebening. -- evening. [inaudible conversations] >> here is authors featured on book afterwards. council on foreign relations president, richard hass, explore the challenges facing u.s. policy. virginia nelson reflected on the founder fathers call of a unifi unified america. sybrina fulton and tracy mti

18 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on