The Life of Chef Lena Richard, a culinary giant who broke barriers

2022-02-02

NEW ORLEANS —New Orleans is known for its delicious food, but do you know the chefs behind those delicious recipes? One culinary giant who paved the way, but is often left in the shadows, is Lena Richard. The first, known African-American to host a culinary cooking TV show in the U.S. and it aired on WDSU.

Richard was born in 1892 in New Roads, Louisiana. She moved to New Orleans at an early age and grew up in a home on N. Derbigny Street. Richard started her culinary career when she was 14. She helped her mom and aunt as a domestic worker for a prominent New Orleans family. "She was born only 30 years after slavery ended. So, she was born in the 1890s. She was part of this dominant workforce that were domestic servants. Those were the only jobs many African American women could get after the Civil War ended and Slavery ended," said Zella Palmer a food historian and Chair of Dillard University's Ray Charles Program in African-American Material Culture.

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