Inside the Ebony test kitchen

For those interested in culinary history, a new exhibition in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood needs to be on your visiting list. African/American: Making the Nation’s Table, opens on February 23 at the Africa Center at Aliko Dangote Hall in Harlem. The exhibition focuses on the African American food experience.

One highlight of the exhibition is the Ebony test kitchen. First installed at the magazine’s headquarters in the early 1970s, it was the culmination of twenty five years of groundbreaking food coverage at Ebony, led by Freda DeKnight, the magazine’s first food editor. With trademark psychedelic styling, the test kitchen “was at the heart of Black American food culture in the media.”

The test kitchen was almost lost in 2010, when Johnson Publishing Company closed it and sold the building in which it was housed to a Chicago developer. Luckily, Landmarks Illinois, a preservation nonprofit, swooped in and purchased the kitchen just before it was demolished. Landmark Illinois paid one dollar for the kitchen, which was then dismantled and reassembled in Brooklyn, New York.

Says renowned food writer Jessica B. Harris, who helped curate the exhibition, “The Ebony kitchen was certainly one of the ways that a lot of people, both African American and non-African American, became aware of the vastness of the scope of African American food.” African/American: Making the Nation’s Table runs through the Juneteenth holiday.

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  • mzgourmand  on  February 22, 2022

    Thank you for highlighting this! I will definitely visit – it sounds fascinating.

  • sayeater  on  February 22, 2022

    If I find myself in the city I will definitely seek out that exhibition!

  • giuliagoldston  on  February 25, 2022

    This article was lovely, thank you for sharing.

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