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The President’s Kitchen Cabinet



2018 NAACP Image Award Nominee for “Outstanding Literary Work–Non-Fiction.”

2018 Colorado Book Award for History Finalist

The hardcover edition is Out of Print!

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What’s the book about?

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; 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.

Check out the table of contents:

Nice words for this book: 

Adrian Miller takes readers on a journey through the stories of African American men and women who have cooked, shopped, and prepared drinks for U.S. presidents through American history. By putting the largely forgotten stories of these men and women together, The President’s Kitchen Cabinet restores to their careers the high profile and respect they deserve.–Elizabeth S. D. Engelhardt, author of A Mess of Greens

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

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

Adrian Miller details the many subtle and not-so-subtle contributions of African American culinary professionals to the food history of the White House. The people, black and white, in The President’s Kitchen Cabinet come across as real, engaged, and accurately placed in their own history, and the White House is refreshingly portrayed as a living institution that has changed dramatically over time.” –Leni Sorensen, founder-director of the Indigo House Culinary History and Rural Skills Center

“With humor and scholarship, Adrian Miller has written an essential and uplifting exposé, ensuring that another group of overlooked African American culinary professionals is remembered and celebrated for its contributions to American foodways.”
Toni Tipton-Martin, author of The Jemima Code

The President’s Kitchen Cabinet brings history alive by tracing the people and foods that appeared at White House events large and small, personal and formal. The research is impeccable, the stories are vivid and thrilling, and the food detailed and delicious. If you love the history of our nation’s first home as I do, you will devour this book.”
Bill Yosses, former executive pastry chef at the White House and coauthor of The Perfect Finish