The President's Kitchen Cabinet: The Story of the African Americans Who Have Fed Our First Families, from the Washingtons to the Obamas

Adrian Miller (Author)


An NAACP Image Award Finalist for Outstanding Literary Work--Non Fiction

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 souffle emerged from the oven. Sorrowfully, but with a cook's pride, she recalled, He never ate that souffle, 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.

Product Details

$22.00  $20.24
University of North Carolina Press
Publish Date
May 07, 2018
6.1 X 9.1 X 0.8 inches | 1.0 pounds

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About the Author

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--worked as a special assistant to President Bill Clinton. He is a certified Kansas City Barbecue Society judge and former Southern Foodways Alliance board member. He lives in Denver, Colorado.


Dissects the social and political considerations that saw African-American contributions minimized or outright ignored as they fed the First Family, from George Washington to our first black president, Barack Obama.--Trevor Hughes, USA Today

Miller opens a door into a fascinating world that few ever think about: the White House kitchens. There, he brings to light a realm shaped by an often-ignored group of African Americans who have nurtured the first families so they could lead a nation.--Booklist

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.--Kam Williams

Shines a light on the role of African-American cooks and their recipes.--Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Satisfies our voyeuristic curiosity into the lives of celebrated men, yes, but it also tells the sometimes even more interesting tales of the men and women who fed them.--Denver Post

Rich in stories, biographies, illustrations, and, of course, recipes.--Durham Herald-Sun

An intriguing glimpse into the inner workings of the White House kitchen and the chefs who have made its wonderful cuisine possible.--Library Journal

Meticulously researched, with touching stories.--Flavors Magazine

The time is ripe to explore [this] history, much of it previously untold.--Michael Floreak, Boston Globe

Focuses on material culture, cultural issues, political dynamics, and labor relations, contributing to the study of the development of the culinary professions in the US.--Huffington Post

For food history and presidential history buffs alike, both entertaining and illuminating.--Kirkus Reviews

Brings the men and women who have worked in the White House kitchen to the forefront. . . . Couldn't be more timely.--Bridgette Lacy, News & Observer

In a tone both intimate and scholarly, the book tells the story of 'presidential foodways' from their perspectives. Recipes are included, a tangible reminder of the power of food to bring history to life.--Stanford Magazine

Famous recipes and amusing anecdotes aplenty. . . . A parallel history of the nation's leaders told through the lens of their domestic employees, whose stories are laced with the often difficult themes of race, social change, and career ambitions that helped define--and feed--America itself.--Craig LaBan, Philadelphia Inquirer

Miller makes it lively through quick, interesting, and sometimes humorous vignettes that dash back and forth through history. . . . Whether it'll sit with your cookbooks or on a shelf with other history tomes, it's a book you'll savor in more ways than one.--Philadelphia Tribune