5 Black Women Who Made Food History

How they changed the way we think about food

By Google Arts & Culture

Jollof rice garnished with onions in a local cooking pot (2019)The Centenary Project

From the first Black chef on Food Network to creating the first known cookbook by a Black women, these pioneers paved the way. Let's celebrate the stories behind five women who deserve a place in food history.

Lena's Eatery Opening (1941) by Lena Richard and Newcomb ArchivesSouthern Food and Beverage Museum

Lena Richard

Lena Richard was the first African American chef to star on TV, with her show 'Lena Richard's New Orleans Cookbook'. She pioneered the way for Black women in food TV, helping to break down stereotypes and build an entire empire to promote Creole cuisine.

Cutting Squash (Leah Chase) (2010) by Gustave Blache IIISmithsonian's National Portrait Gallery

Leah Chase

Leah Chase helped to bring New Orleans Creole cooking to a global audience through her renowned restaurant, cookbooks, and TV appearances. She transformed her sandwich shop into a fine dining restaurant and it even became a prominent hang out for Civil Rights leaders.

Civil Rights Leaders marching from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial. (1963-08-28)U.S. National Archives

Beatrice Gray

Nutritionist, food pioneer, and activist, Beatrice Gray noticed her fellow Washington DC residents lacked access to quality food. So she set about creating food buyers clubs and the first cooperative grocery stores to give people access to better products.

Juli Soler, Ferran Adrià and Albert Adrià (1987)Real Academia de Gastronomía

LaDeva Davis

The first African American woman to have a nationally syndicated cooking show on TV 'What's Cooking?' first aired in 1975. Through her show, Davis helped to revolutionize the American dining table.

Recipe BookOriginal Source: http://www.nps.gov/museum/exhibits/grko/exb/FoodFreeTime/RanchHouse/GRKO-17572-Augusta's-cookboo.html

Malinda Russell

Malinda Russell's A Domestic Cookbook: Containing a Careful Selection of Useful Receipts for the Kitchen, from 1866, was recognized as the first cookbook by an African American. The only surviving copy was found in 2000, featuring 250+ recipes.

85199 (1970-09) by John OlsonLIFE Photo Collection

Hungry for more?

Explore stories about pioneering women around the world.

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