History on a Plate

The first James Hemings tribute dinner “History on a Plate” was held at Oberod Estate, Wilmington, DE on May 14, 2015 in conjunction with the 2015 MidAtlantic Wine and Food Festival (MAWFF).

In the center of “Chateau Country,” Oberod Estate was the perfect setting to showcase a 5-course, 10 wines-paired dinner based on a critical part of our country’s culinary history honoring America’s first chef de cuisine, James Hemings.

Hemings’ considerable and historic influences on American food and culture include the introduction of macaroni and cheese, ice cream, whipped cream, and French fries for the first time in America. Author and Chef Ashbell McElveen reports that Thomas Jefferson has long been wrongly attributed with creating these dishes, which were actually Hemings’ genius adaptations of French haute cuisine.

Chef Ashbell, along with 4 other chefs (Alain Ivaldi, Darryl Harmon, Dana Herbert and Hari Cameron) not only created Hemings-inspired recipes, but also shared his deep knowledge of James Hemings and his influence on American cooking and food preparation. Founding member Tonya Hopkins, who serves as culinary historian, wine specialist, and events director for the foundation, enriched the evening with an engaging talk about the significance of the Mid-Atlantic region in the development of colonial cookery and the creation of American cuisine largely by the hands of by black cooks and chefs.