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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

< Back to Oral History project: Women Cookbook Writers


Nancie McDermott

Born and raised in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Nancie McDermott still calls that city home. After graduating from college, McDermott headed to Thailand—specifically in northeast Surin Province, on the Cambodian border—as a Peace Corps volunteer. Back in the States and living in Los Angeles, she catered, taught cooking classes, and enrolled in a food writing course.

Her first book, Real Thai (1992) was one of the first serious compendiums of that nation’s cuisine written for an American audience. Returning to her home state, McDermott penned numerous books on Thai, Vietnamese, and Chinese cooking. Always a prolific recipe developer and writer, her cookbook career pivoted in 2007 with the release of Southern Cakes.

She has written books on Southern pies, fruit, and soups and stews. Nancie McDermott is also a vocal activist for racial and social equality in North Carolina and throughout the nation.

Date of interview:

Rien Fertel

Kate Medley

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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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