Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Latest

Related Posts

Eat Mac and Cheese, Think James Hemings (Thomas Jefferson’s Chef)

Affiliate Disclosure: Some links on Spotcovery.com are affiliate links. If you click and purchase through these links, we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. We only recommend products and services we believe will provide value to our readers. Thank you for your support!
spot_img

You probably can mention some of the most influential American chefs who’ve changed the way you cook and eat food. Does James Hemings make it to your list? He was one of the best chefs having worked for the political elite.

Coming from an enslaved home, his climb to the top of the social ladder was interesting. Keep reading to find out.

Become an insider.  Subscribe to our newsletter for more top trending stories like this!

People Also Read: George Crum: The Potato Chip Inventor You Probably Didn’t Know

There are plenty of kitchen appliances on Amazon.

James Hemings’ Early Life

James Hemings’ life. Video Credit: Untold History

James Hemings was born in 1765 in Charles City County, Virginia to an enslaved family. His father, John Wayles, was a plantation owner and his mother, Elizabeth Hemings, was his slave. However, Wayles didn’t acknowledge him and his siblings.

After Wayles died, Thomas Jefferson, who’d married his daughter Martha Wayels, inherited James Hemings and his siblings, and others who were part of the Monticello community. 

Not much is known about his childhood, but it’s believed that Hemings’ and his brother Robert Hemings were slaves in Richmond and Williamsburg. The Hemings brothers took Jefferson’s wife and children to safety.

People Also Read: Lewis Latimer: Get to Know Why He Was More Than an Inventor

You can buy kitchen accessories on Amazon.

Culinary Training

In 1984, when Thomas Jefferson was traveling to Paris, Hemings accompanied him and he (Hemings) was trained in the art of French cooking. He was under the tutelage of Caterer and restaurateur, Monsieur Combeaux, from whom he learnt how to make Haut cuisine. He then studied under pastry chefs and was a cook at the Prince de Condé household.  

During his training, Jefferson paid him $4 wage month. Hemings paid a French tutor to learn the language while studying. Before long, Jefferson appointed him the Chef de Cuisine or head chef in his kitchen in Champs-Élysées to serve his guests.  

Hemings also served as the head chef at Jefferson’s residence, Hôtel de Langeac.  

Join our Spotcovery Global Black Community Facebook Group for early access to exclusive content and to share in a lively discussion.

Career

James Hemings dishes. Video Credit: Deeper Than Read

Throughout his illustrious career, James Hemings’ is believed to have curated some of the most famous dishes you enjoy today. He’s thought to be the first to prepare “macaroni pie, ” which Americans today call macaroni and cheese

However, credit has incorrectly been given to Mary Randolph because it featured in her cookbook The Virginia Housewife. He’s also believed to have introduced the snow eggs, consisting of meringue and custard. 

People Also Read: Scott Joplin: The King of Ragtime’s 7 Incredible Compositions

Returning to America

Jefferson became concerned that Hemings would become aware of the possibility of getting freedom. By this time, slavery was illegal under French law, but Hemings didn’t know. He considered staying in the country to gain his freedom.

Become an insider.  Subscribe to our newsletter for more top trending stories like this!

However, they returned to the United States with the Jefferson family in the early days of the French Revolution as’ slaves. Sally Hemings cooperated with him, hoping he would keep his agreement with her to allow her unborn children to be free.

People Also Read: 6 Interesting Facts About the Lalibela Church in Ethiopia

Get your kitchenware on Amazon.

Secretary of State Chef

The story of James Hemings. Video Credit: BondIt Media Capital / Buffalo 8

After Jefferson was appointed the Secretary of State, James Hemings set up his first American kitchen in a small house in New York City. He cooked a meal that Jefferson said, was going “to save the union”. 

In 1790, he cooked for one of Jefferson’s sworn enemies, Alexander Hamilton, who he mended his relationship. Hemings cooked for many international visitors including cabinet members, congressmen, diplomats and more.

The following year, Hemings traveled throughout the country with Jefferson and James Madison. Through this, he went to states that abolished slavery. 

He negotiated a deal with Jefferson, in which he wanted freedom after training his replacement. He trained his younger brother, Peter Hemings, for two years and he later became Jefferson’s chef at Monticello. James gained his freedom.

Freedom

After securing his freedom, James Hemings is believed to have returned to Philadelphia and traveled widely. In 1801, when Jefferson was president-elect, he set his household in Washington and thought Hemings, who was in Baltimore, would want to return and work as the White House chef. 

However, he found it difficult to get him back although reports believe he eventually worked at Monticello again for a month.

Two months after leaving Monticello, Hemings died by suicide. The exact causes that led him to do this remain unknown, although reports point to the possibility of suffering from depression and alcoholism.

Thomas Jefferson’s chef James Heming was the first American chef trained in France and one of the earliest African American chefs in the country. He served the top cream of the political class and made a name for himself. Hemings was so good that Jefferson found him to be indispensable. But sadly, enslaved him to take advantage. His contributions weren’t recognized but today, culinary historians acknowledge his work.

Nearly 80% of consumers visit directories with reviews to find a local business. List your business for free in our exclusive Spotcovery Black-Owned Business Directory.

Spotcovery offers unique and fresh daily content on Black culture, lifestyle, and experiences. We talk about everything black, black people, black-owned and black-owned businesses. We also deliver authentic and relevant content that will inform, inspire, and empower you! The future of black media is critical to today’s black experience! Our primary audience includes African Americans, Africans, Afro-Caribbean, and people of African heritage. Black culture is for the culture!

Become an insider.  Subscribe to our newsletter for more top trending stories like this!

Affiliate Disclosure: Some links on Spotcovery.com are affiliate links. If you click and purchase through these links, we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. We only recommend products and services we believe will provide value to our readers. Thank you for your support!

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here
Captcha verification failed!
CAPTCHA user score failed. Please contact us!

Popular Articles