The Jemima Code (Gravy Ep. 6)

Chef Leah Chase in the kitchen at Dooky Chase's.

Toni Tipton Martin was just starting out as a reporter back in the 1980’s, when she noticed something that struck her as odd about the cookbook section of the newspaper she was working for. There were no cookbooks by black people. “That just didn’t jive with my experience,” she says, having grown up in an African American household of skilled cooks. “It didn’t make sense that African Americans didn’t make any contribution at all.” Little did Toni know that that observation would set her on a multi-decade journey of research and discovery.

In this episode of Gravy, we tell the story of the world of black cookbooks that Toni eventually uncovered, and what they tell us about culinary history in the United States.

Toni Tipton Martin.
Toni Tipton Martin.

You can learn more about Toni’s work here. You can visit the restaurants profiled in this episode, too.

Chef Chris Williams with Gravy host Tina Antolini at Lucille's.
Chef Chris Williams with Gravy host Tina Antolini at Lucille’s.

Chef Chris Williams’ restaurant, Lucille’s, named in homage to his great grandmother, Lucille Bishop Smith, is here.

Lucille Bishop Smith.
Lucille Bishop Smith.

Chef Leah Chase’s restaurant, Dooky Chase’s, is here.

Chef Leah Chase in the kitchen at Dooky Chase's.
Chef Leah Chase in the kitchen at Dooky Chase’s.

This story was produced in collaboration with PRX and NPR’s State of the Re:Union.