WATERFORD, VA-- The Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership is celebrating Black History Month by honoring one of the National Heritage Area’s most famous chefs, Edna Lewis from Orange County, Virginia, by having Carla Hall, an African-American celebrity chef from Bravo networks’ Top Chef contestant prepare an Edna Lewis dinner using locally-grown foods, which will be complemented by a talk by renown food historian and African American history specialist Leni Sorensen.
Known as the Grand Dame of Southern Cooking, Lewis was an African-American chef and author best known for her southern cuisine. She was the granddaughter of freed slaves, born in the small farming settlement of Freetown in Orange, Virginia. She published The Edna Lewis Cookbook (1972), The Taste of Country Cooking (1976), In Pursuit of Flavor (1988) and The Gift of Southern Cooking (2003). She passed on February 13, 2006 at the age of 89, but only after inspiring a generation of young chefs, including celebrity chef from Bravo, Carla Hall.
On February 24, 2011, Chef Hall will prepare a traditional Winter Dinnerfrom Edna Lewis’ The Taste of Country Cooking, using locally-grown foods from Walnut Hill Farms, which is owned by Jeff and Ginny Adams and employs grass-fed, hormone and antibiotic free farming.
Chef Hall reached recent national acclaim on the Bravo network’s hit show Top Chef, which recently kicked off its All Star season. She cooks from the heart, and balances her Southern traditions and classic French training with a holistic approach to food. She is as an entertaining expert and owner and Executive Chef of Alchemy by Carla Hall in Washington, DC.
“Edna Lewis is the perfect example to show how everyone has a gift that can leave a lasting legacy to this nation’s heritage, our culture, and more, how it can be enjoyed for generations,” explained Cate Magennis Wyatt, president and founder of the Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership. “With help from special people like Carla Hall, Leni Sorensen, and Charles Gilliam, – we are honoring Lewis’s legacy and perpetuating the breadth of diverse heritage found in this exceptional four-state National Heritage Area. It’s not just Where America Happened, but Where America Happens everyday.”
The event will be held at the Foundation Room in Old Town Manassas, Virginia, owned by Charles Gilliam, who also owns Okras Restaurant, which is where First Lady Michelle Obama recently dined. Gilliam will be assisting Hall in the food preparation for the dinner. Proceeds from the event will go to The Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership’s educational programs.
The evening also will include a lecture on the life of Edna Lewis and traditional Virginia Cuisine, led by Leni Sorensen, a food historian and an African-American Research Historian at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. Sorensen focuses her research on the material culture, culinary history, and agricultural lives of whites and blacks in the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries.
With 400 years of European, American, and African-American heritage, the Journey Through Hallowed Ground is a National Heritage Area with a National Scenic Byway running through it. From Gettysburg to Monticello, it’s known as the region Where America Happened. It contains more history than any other region in the nation and includes: National and World Heritage sites, over 10,000 sites on the National Register of Historic Places, 49 National Heritage districts, nine Presidential homes, 13 National Park units, hundreds of African American and Native American heritage sites, 30 Historic Main Street communities, sites from the Revolutionary War, French-Indian War, War of 1812 and the largest collection of Civil War sites in the nation.
The JTHG Partnership has produced several books on the area including: Honoring Their Paths: African American Contributions Along the Journey Through Hallowed Ground; and The Journey Through Hallowed Ground, Birthplace of the American Ideal (published by National Geographic).
Educating teachers, students, citizens and visitors is one of the primary objectives of the JTHG Partnership. Since its inception in 2005, this non-profit, four-state, public-private partnership has developed a variety of educational programs, including the Certified Tourism Ambassador program, which works with local business to help prepare for the influx of visitors during the four-year Sesquicentennial Commemorations and after.