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Black History Month and Chefs of Colour

  1. Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing their central role in U.S. history. Also known as African American History Month, the event grew out of “Negro History Week,” the brainchild of noted historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans. Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month. Other countries around the world, including Canada and the United Kingdom, also devote a month to celebrating Black history.

As a chef having worked for 40 years (Yikes) in the hospitality industry, I have had the great fortune of working with people from all over the world. To celebrate my great fortune, I felt it would be nice to acknowledge some of our Star Chefs of Colour!


The award-winning celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson is such a talented culinary legend that I have been honored to meet at his NYC Red Rooster Harlem Restaurant. Those who watch HBO Max may have seen him on Selena + The Chef where he taught Selena Gomez how to cook one of his amazing meals this past year. Samuelsson has also won New York Times best-selling author on his cookbook Marcus Off Duty.


The famous Tanya Holland is so impressive, I can’t get enough of her food, personality, and recipes. You also may have seen her on HBO Max’s show, Selena + The Chef, where she taught Selena Gomez how to make one of her delicious meals. Her Brown Sugar Kitchen is truly one like no other since it is soul food with comfort classics, creating the perfect combination.

Edna Lewis

Edna Lewis, the grande dame of Southern cooking, created the blueprint for the farm-to-table lifestyle, “eating with the seasons, a sense of community and the satisfactory feeling that hard work is always rewarded by good food.” The Edna Lewis Foundation creates opportunities for African Americans in the fields of cooking, agriculture, food studies and storytelling.

Leah Chase

Acclaimed cookbook author Leah Chase was the executive chef and co-owner of the Dooky Chase’s Restaurant, one of the most celebrated restaurants in New Orleans. Known for her food and public service, Chase fed everyone from farmworkers to Freedom Riders to US presidents. Chase died in 2019 at 96, but not before solidifying her place in culinary history as the Queen of Creole Cuisine.

Robert W. Lee

So many Black chefs stand on the shoulders of Robert W. Lee. He started cooking at 7 and refined his skills in some of the best hotels in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. A wealthy chef benefactor brought Lee to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania in 1939 to be executive chef at the Harrisburg Hotel. There, he created the menus and trained hundreds of Black chefs. During WWII, Lee received a medal from FDR for teaching so many troops to cook in his role as mess sergeant and instructor.

Barbara “B.” Smith

B. Smith initially broke racial barriers in modeling and later as a successful restaurateur and the first Black woman elected to the Culinary Institute of America board. Smith’s cookbooks, restaurants, home collection line and weekly TV show made her a lifestyle icon. In 2012, her advocacy for healthy living helped bring culturally diverse food to the Armed Forces.

That's all folks! Happy Thursday, have a great weekend. See you Monday for another interesting look at Green Hospitality. Don't forget Valentines day is coming up very soon, consider booking your PRIVATE CHEF for that special someone in your life!

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