Some historical icons in the culinary arts have changed the way food is prepared and viewed, and James Hemings is one of those people.
Hemings was a slave owned by President Thomas Jefferson, but he was also a personal chef to the President who impacted the future of food in America.
In the film ‘James Hemings: Ghost in America’s Kitchen’, presented at the Roxbury Film Festival, famous black chefs, historians and activists tell the story of Jefferson’s trip to Paris and how Hemings used his talent to prepare the one of the most important dinners. held with French aristocrats and delegates.
Heming’s diligence in his kitchen is showcased throughout this film, and it’s great to see how his story is finally shared with people today. It was moving to see how black leaders told the stories of Hemings being known as a high class leader at a time when slaves were looked down upon. It piqued my interest that history never gave him proper recognition over other leaders after him.
Hearing black chefs and historians tell the public the truth about this culinary arts pioneer made me look at certain foods and how family recipes are seen as a way to remember our legacy. It’s something that was really surprising, and it made me re-evaluate certain kitchens and my own family’s cooking and recipes. I was really impressed.
By sharing the Southern style of cooking and how those dishes are served to bring the idea of French cuisine to America, “Ghost in America’s Kitchen” gave Hemings the recognition he so deserved.