Usually, in every industry, there is a first or a pioneer that opens doors or begins a process or starts the ball rolling. And, I guess today’s African-American cookbook authors, Jeff Henderson and Patti Labelle owe a great thanks to Rufus Estes for being the first to publish his recipes for the general public. This month I am celebrating 99 years of “Rufus Estes’ Good Things to Eat!”
Rufus was born in 1857 as a slave and 54 years later produced a cookbook in 1911. This book contains almost 600 recipes! He offers up recipes for everything from fruit paste and lemon sherbet to mince meat and cheese soufflés. The setup of his book makes it a very easy read. . . Rufus starts with a section entitled “a sketch of my life” where he summarizes his growth through the industry starting at age 16 on to becoming the “chef of the subsidiary companies of the United States Steel Corporation in Chicago.” All in all, Rufus talks very little about topics outside of food! The next section of his book goes right into hints and suggestions for kitchen cooks followed by a “table of weights and measures.” The rest of the book is recipes. I am putting the cookbook back on our library shelves so YOU can be the next person to check it out! Plus, I’ve already read it twice.
Other writings worthy of celebrating are “Soul Food Classic Cuisine from the Deep South” by Sheila Ferguson. The section entitled “If You See It, Shoot It” has certainly piqued my interest! In fact, I’ll tell you now – it reminds me of my uncle EJ. While growing up I got a chance to try a variety of different types of foods because uncle EJ caught and cooked up almost anything that crossed his path. At any point in time, you could open his freezer and find possum, or pig’s feet, or squirrel, and some other unidentified frozen meals! “Living off the fat of the land,” a practiced belief of Ferguson’s grandfather has been a common occurrence in many African-American families.
My next selections are “African American Foodways-Explorations of History & Culture.” It is edited by Anne L. Bower who explores how in spite of its passage from West Africa; African Americans today still value the food of Africa as symbolic. Finally, in “Black Hunger”, author Doris Witt writes how food stereotypes have historically shaped debates between races. All of these books are available in our Learning Resource Center! Whether for pleasure or enlightenment - these books are great reads.
Jokima Hiller, MBA, Hospitality & Restaurant
Management Program Coordinator
Blog Editor - Dorenda Roberson, MA, Instructor
The Chef's Academy on the Web
The Chef's Academy on Facebook
The Chef's Academy on Myspace
Having a family member volunteer you to cook dinner for 25 girl scouts and their families was a bit scary. Having only cooked for about 10 people at the most, I was a little worried. But I used the skills of team work developed in the kitchen environment at The Chef's Academy to help me through this scary task. I gathered up a couple of girl scouts to help with the prep work. After a quick knife skills lesson we were off and running. The girls did a great job on prep and I used the confidence of cooking larger amounts of food, learned at school, to help me pull off a very successful dinner. Without the learning and confidence I gained as a student of The Chef's Academy, I would have never been able to do cooking that good on a meal that large. Trust what you are learning in school to be amongst the best you can learn from. And volunteer to put that learning to good practice, it will pay off for you down the road.
Ever since I’ve heard about the Student Advisory Board I knew that I wanted to become a member. Not for the recognition, but because I knew that I might be able to make a difference. There are so many things that this school has to offer us as students, and I knew that being involved with the Student Advisory Board would allow me to be apart of that experience. Last week I was asked to come to a Student Advisory Board meeting. I had an enriched feeling when I was asked to come. Knowing that I could have the opportunity to be involved in something that I’ve longed to be apart of is truly an exhilarating feeling. The meeting was great. I gave my input on a lot of things and I’ve committed to a number of things that needed to be done for the advisory board. After the meeting I was informed that they wanted me to be a “shadow board member” which is me just coming to the next three meetings and if they approve of me, then I’ll officially be a part of the board. I’ve truly been having a wonderful time with this group and I’m hoping that we can continue to progress to an extremely productive future. I can’t wait until the next time we meet.