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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 annemarie@southernfoodways.org.

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Rachel Zell

Chef, Food Stylist, Caterer, Server

A fourth-generation Richmonder, Rachel Zell’s family was known for its business, Nathan’s Custom Tailors. But Rachel had a passion for food. In 1996, she left Richmond to attend the French Culinary Institute in New York City. Rachel stayed in the Big Apple to work for Katy Sparks at Quilty’s. After relocating to San Francisco for another opportunity, she returned to Richmond to do what she loves at home in 2002. Rachel has served as a private chef for families in Richmond and New York and has done her share of catering. She’s cooked at Patina Grill and Ipanema Café in her hometown. Today, in addition to cooking for clients and freelancing as a food stylist, Rachel also works as a server at The Roosevelt in Church Hill. She never set out with a specific career path in mind, only a mission: to connect with people through food.

Date of interview:
March 5, 2013

Sara Wood

Sara Wood

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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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