John T. EdgeBailey BarashJudith Jones
Edna Lewis was the granddaughter of freed slaves from Virginia. She grew up on the farm, where all the food was grown, raised, foraged or bartered. Seasonal, local and fresh were the only ways southern households knew how to cook. Fearful of the KKK and tired of the lack of work opportunities in the South, Edna made her way to pre-WWII New York City. She joined the Communist Party, fighting for the rights of the poor and the workers. On weekends, she cooked for her friends.
Edna Lewis became the adored chef for post-WW II artists, writers, scholars, and performers in Manhattan at Cafe Nicholson. There, she cooked simple but elegant meals based on her experience of watching the women prepare the meals on the farm. Late in her life, Miss Lewis became friends with Scott Peacock, an Alabama-born, white chef almost 50 years her junior. Their friendship deepened into a unique relationship. They were called 'the odd couple' of the cooking world and co-authored a popular cookbook, "The Gift of Southern Cooking" (Knopf, 2003). As Miss Lewis grew older, Scott found a place where they could live together. He became her caregiver, helping her cope with an increasingly frail mind and body. Scott carries on her approach to food and the recipes they created together.