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Oral Histories

The SFA oral history program documents life stories from the American South. Collecting these stories, we honor the people whose labor defines the region. If you would like to contribute to SFA’s oral history collections, please send your ideas for oral history along with your CV or Resume and a portfolio of prior oral history work to

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Laura Hester

Red Gingham Gourmet

Laura Hester was born in 1961 and raised in Florence, Alabama.  Growing up, her mother taught home economics and often experimented with new recipes at home. In 1985, Hester became a dental hygienist, but she always loved to bake. In 2005, she began selling sourdough bread at her local farmer’s market to supplement her family’s income. At her first farmer’s market, she remembers instantly selling the sixteen loaves she brought.

A local chef approached her to make a cornbread muffin for his restaurant. She used her mother’s cornbread recipe and often sold the extra muffins she had leftover along with the sourdough bread, cinnamon rolls, and cakes at the farmers’ market. The cornbread muffins were a hit. A farmers’ market customer convinced her to sell them in their local grocery store during the winter months. She transitioned from farmers’ markets to direct store delivery. At the height of her business, Hester sold her classic and jalapeno cornbread muffins in grocery stores throughout the Southeast. In 2018, Hester closed Red Gingham Gourmet.

Date of interview:

Annemarie Anderson

Andrea Belk

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The Southern Foodways Alliance drives a more progressive future by leading conversations that challenge existing constructs, shape perspectives, and foster meaningful discussions. We reconsider the past with research, scrutiny, and documentation.


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