This month we are featuring Edna Lewis, renowned chef, teacher, and author born in Freetown, VA in 1916. Freetown, a farming settlement community founded by formerly enslaved people (one of whom was Lewis' grandfather), encouraged others through her love of cooking with fresh, local ingredients.
Her deep knowledge of Southern cuisine and African American history has made Lewis one of the most influential figures in American cooking. In a time when female chefs got little recognition, Black chefs even less so, Edna Lewis made history opening C
Nicholson in Manhattan in 1948 with John Nicholson. The caf
é became hugely successful, highlighting Southern cooking and inspiring chefs generations later.
Lewis won the James Beard Living Legend Award in 1995 and was named Grande Dame by Les Dames d’Escoffier, an international organization of female culinary professionals, in 1999.
Among her many accomplishments, including writing the perfect rhubarb pie recipe (below), Lewis wrote four books:
The Edna Lewis Cookbook
The Taste of Country Cooking
In Pursuit of Flavor
The Gift of Southern Cooking