BHP is spotlighting African American chefs and culinary historians each Tuesday in February to celebrate Black history month. We have shared the life and talents of the Grand Dame of Southern Cooking, Edna Lewis, and Michael W. Twitty, an African American and Jewish culinary historian, author, and blogger. This week, we celebrate Adrian E. Miller.
Adrian E. Miller is a writer, attorney, and certified barbecue judge who lives in Denver, Colorado. He served as a special assistant to President Bill Clinton, a senior policy analyst for Colorado Governor Bill Ritter Jr., and a Southern Foodways Alliance board member. Mr. Miller’s first book, Soul Food: The Surprising Story of an American Cuisine, One Plate at a Time delves into the influences, ingredients, and innovations that make up the soul food tradition. The book won the James Beard Foundation Award for Scholarship and Reference in 2014.
Mr. Miller’s second book, The President’s Kitchen Cabinet: The Story of the African Americans Who Have Fed Our First Families, From the Washingtons to the Obamas was published on President’s Day 2017. The book vividly tells the stories of the African Americans who worked in the presidential food service. 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.
Black Smoke: African Americans and the United States of Barbecue, will be published Spring 2021. In his third book, Mr. Miller chronicles how Black barbecuers, pitmasters, and restaurateurs helped develop this cornerstone of American foodways and how they are coming into their own today. It’s a smoke-filled story of Black perseverance, culinary innovation, and entrepreneurship.
About food and cooking, Mr. Miller shares, “when you sit down at the table with someone, you recognize their humanity and cooking is an act of love. When somebody cooks food for you, they’re saying that they care about your survival.”
Jessica Kaplan, Bucknell University Intern, Class of 2021