Black Food History with Leni Sorenson

Photo of Leni Sorensen

Thursday, March 30 | 11:00 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.

Leni Sorensen Public Lecture | "It Takes the World to Make a Meal: Dinner at Cawson's 1796"

The first of a series of events with acclaimed Black culinary historian, Leni Sorensen, who has been a curator at Monticello, stages historical dinners at her Indigo House, was featured in Netflix's High on the Hog, and was profiled in this recent New York Times piece. In this public lecture, she will explore the meals, and the enslaved people who performed the labor, cooking and serving--at a late eighteenth century Virginia plantation as a way to illustrate eating traditions and to highlight the lives of the enslaved people who, at all levels of production, made them possible. 

Location: Squires Student Center, Room: Brush Mountain A, 290 College Ave. Blacksburg, VA 24060.

Thursday, March 30 | 4–7 p.m.

Student Workshop: Learn to make chef Edna Lewis's bread pudding 

  • The bread pudding that students make will be served at the evening lecture.

Location: Wallace 247 (AHRM Kitchen), 901 Prices Fork Rd. Blacksburg, VA 24060.

Thursday, March 30 | 7–8:30 p.m.

"Tasting African American Food History: The Antebellum Roots of Chef Edna Lewis's Desserts"

In this pay-what-you-want ticketed event, enjoy a dessert course featuring Chef Edna Lewis's bread pudding, prepared by Food Studies students, and with commentary from Leni Sorensen. Edna Lewis was a renowned American chef, teacher, and author who helped refine the American view of Southern cooking, making the case for black Southern cooking as the foundation of our national cuisine. All proceeds support the Food Studies program's student initiatives. 

Location: Wallace Atrium, Wallace Hall,  295 West Campus Drive. Blacksburg, VA 24060. 

Friday, March 31 | 4:45 p.m.

"Reading Between the Lines: Finding Real Life in Original Documents"

As part of the 26th annual Brian Bertoti Innovative Perspectives in History Graduate Research Conference, Leni Sorenson will deliver the keynote address on Friday, March 31.  She owns a farmstead devoted to teaching the public about culinary history, historical meals, and effective home provisioning techniques. As a food historian, she researches a wide variety of topics varying from the lives of Black cooks, with a particular emphasis on the American Colonial period and the early nineteenth century, contemporary culinary practices, gardening, and animal processing. 

Location: Hahn Garden Pavilion, 200 Garden Ln. Blacksburg, VA 24061.