April, 2016
Fugitive Waves #45 – Hidden Kitchen Mama

Fugitive Waves #45 – Hidden Kitchen Mama

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Kitchens and mothers. The food they cooked or didn’t. The stories they told or couldn’t. In honor of mothers from around the world, The Kitchen Sisters linger in the kitchen — the room in the house that counts the most, that smells the best, where families gather and children are fed, where all good parties begin and end. The room where the best stories are told.

Stories of mothers and kitchens from playwright Ellen Sebastian Chang, cookbook author Peggy Knickerbocker, designer Cristina Salas-Porras, folklorist and creator/host of American Routes Nick Spitzer, and actress Robin Wright. And messages from the Hidden Kitchens hotline.


Robin Wright with her family at “Grandmommie” and “Grandy’s” house in Dallas, TX

Black Chef, White House: African American Cooks in the President’s Kitchen

Black Chef, White House: African American Cooks in the President’s Kitchen

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Hidden Kitchens turns its focus on the president’s kitchen and some of the first cooks to feed the Founding Fathers — Hercules and James Hemings — the enslaved chefs of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.

Hercules, described as a “dandy,” had eight assistants — stewards, butlers, undercooks, waiters. He cooked in a huge fireplace — hearth cooking. He walked through the streets of Philadelphia in a velvet waistcoat and a gold-handled cane. When Washington was getting ready to leave Philadelphia to return to Mt. Vernon, Hercules escaped. Washington sent out search parties and offered rewards. Hercules was never found.

In 1784, Thomas Jefferson was appointed minister to France. He took with him his body servant, 19-year-old James Hemings (the brother of Sally Hemings), to master the French style of cooking. Hemings apprenticed with well-known French caterers and a pastry chefs and assumed the role of chef de cuisine in Jefferson’s kitchen on the Champs-Elysees, earning $48 a year. In 1793, Hemings petitioned Jefferson for his freedom. Jefferson consented upon one condition — he must train someone to take his place. After teaching his brother, Peter Hemings, the cooking techniques he had learned in France and at home, James Hemings became a free man.

These stories begin a long connection of presidents and their African-American cooks, including the story of Zephyr Wright, President Lyndon Johnson’s cook who worked for the family for 27 years. Johnson spoke to Zephyr Wright about the Civil Rights Movement and the March on Washington. She attended the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Johnson gave her the pen he used to sign the document.

Kitchen Daughter Rocks Publishing World with Debut Novel – Tuesday Nights in 1980

Kitchen Daughter Rocks Publishing World with Debut Novel – Tuesday Nights in 1980


Dear Friends,

Over the years we have told you about many a Kitchen Sister story and project. Today we write with so much joy and pride we can barely stand it. Nikki’s daughter, Molly Prentiss, has written her first novel, TUESDAY NIGHTS IN 1980, from Scout Press / Simon & Schuster. Available now!

Tuesday Nights in 1980 has already received a heap of advanced praise:

“intoxicating Manhattan fairytale… an absorbing thrilling debut.” —Kirkus Review. “Vital, sensuous, and edgy” —Booklist. A “bold and auspicious debut” —Publishers Weekly.

“A beautifully written story of creation and transformation, set against a backdrop of urban decay and political violence. I loved this book.” —Daniel Alarcón, author of At Night We Walk in the Circles & Lost City Radio.

You get the drift. The girl has a hit on her hands, the first of many novels to come from this remarkable writer.

Perhaps you would like to meet this Kitchen Daughter. Molly has EVENTS in the Bay Area and New York coming up in the next few weeks.

Wednesday, April 6, 7:30pm, Greenlight Books
Celebrate the official launch of the novel at Greenlight Books in Fort Greene. Molly will be in conversation with Claudia Ballard of the William Morris Agency, and editor, Alison Callahan of Scout Press.

Wednesday, April 13, 7:30pm, Green Apple Books
Molly in conversation with Tom Barbash, author of Stay Up With Me, at Green Apple Books (the new location on Golden Gate Park).

Thursday, April 14, 7pm, Bookshop Santa Cruz
Molly returns to her hometown (where she grew up on the commune). She says “it has been my dream since I was ten to write a book and present it at Bookshop.” She also adds “My mom (Nikki) will probably be raising her hand and asking a lot of questions, and like ten of my ex-boyfriends will probably be there, so it should be good.”

Monday, April 25, 7pm, Housing Works
Molly in convo with Sloane Crosley, author of I Was Told There’d Be Cake and The Clasp.

If you would like to order a copy of the book, you can do so on Indiebound or Amazon.

All Love,

Davia & Nikki