The President’s Kitchen Cabinet:

The Story of the African Americans Who Have Fed Our First Families, from the Washingtons to the Obamas

  • Read by: Ron Butler
  • Runtime: 9.4 Hours
  • Recording: Unabridged
  • Release date: 2.20.2017
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio
  • Genre: Nonfiction/History
  • 9.43 hrs2/20/2017Unabridged
  • ISBN-13: 9781504795012
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James Beard award–winning author Adrian Miller vividly tells the stories of the African Americans who worked in the presidential food service as chefs, personal cooks, butlers, stewards, and servers for every First Family since George and Martha Washington.

Miller brings together the names and words of more than 150 black men and women who played remarkable roles in unforgettable events in the nation’s history. Daisy McAfee Bonner, for example, FDR’s cook at his Warm Springs retreat, described the president’s final day on earth in 1945, when he was struck down just as his lunchtime cheese soufflé emerged from the oven. Sorrowfully, but with a cook’s pride, she recalled, “He never ate that soufflé, but it never fell until the minute he died.”

A treasury of information about cooking techniques and equipment, the book includes twenty recipes for which black chefs were celebrated. From Samuel Fraunces’s “onions done in the Brazilian way” for George Washington to Zephyr Wright’s popovers, beloved by LBJ’s family, Miller highlights African Americans’ contributions to our shared American foodways.

Surveying the labor of enslaved people during the antebellum period and the gradual opening of employment after Emancipation, Miller highlights how food-related work slowly became professionalized and the important part African Americans played in that process. His chronicle of the daily table in the White House proclaims a fascinating new American story.

Editorial Reviews

The President’s Kitchen Cabinet focuses on material culture, cultural issues, political dynamics, and labor relations, contributing to the study of the development of the culinary professions in the US.”

Huffington Post

The President’s Kitchen Cabinet satisfies our voyeuristic curiosity into the lives of celebrated men, yes, but it also tells the sometimes even more interesting tales of the men and women who fed them.”

Denver Post

“An intriguing glimpse into the inner workings of the White House kitchen and the chefs who have made its wonderful cuisine possible.”

Library Journal

“Brings to light a realm shaped by an often-ignored group of African Americans who have nurtured the first families so they could lead a nation.”


“For food history and presidential history buffs alike, both entertaining and illuminating.”

Kirkus Reviews

“The research is impeccable, the stories are vivid and thrilling, and the food detailed and delicious.”

Bill Yosses, former executive pastry chef at the White House

“With humor and scholarship, Adrian Miller has written an essential and uplifting exposé.”

Toni Tipton-Martin, author of The Jemima Code

“By putting the largely forgotten stories of these men and women together, The President’s Kitchen Cabinet restores to their careers the high profile and respect they deserve.”

Elizabeth S. D. Engelhardt, author of A Mess of Greens

Author Biography

Adrian Miller is a graduate of Stanford University and Georgetown University Law Center. After practicing law in Denver for several years, he became a special assistant to President William Jefferson Clinton and the deputy director of the president’s Initiative for One America—the first freestanding White House office to examine and focus on closing the opportunity gaps that exist for minorities in America.

After his White House stint, Miller returned to Colorado and served as the general counsel and director of outreach at the Bell Policy Center—a progressive think tank. In 2007 he became the deputy legislative director for Colorado governor Bill Ritter Jr. By the end of Ritter’s first term, Miller was a senior policy analyst for the governor. Ritter where he handled homeland security, military and veterans’ issues, and the Campaign to End Childhood Hunger.

Miller is currently the executive director of the Colorado Council of Churches. He is the first African American and the first layperson to hold that position.

Miller is also a culinary historian and a certified barbecue judge who has lectured around the country on such topics as black chefs in the White House, chicken and waffles, hot sauce, kosher soul food, red drinks, soda pop, and soul food. Miller’s first book, Soul Food: The Surprising Story of an American Cuisine, One Plate at a Time won the 2014 James Beard Foundation Book Award for Reference and Scholarship.

Reader Biography

Ron Butler is a Los Angeles–based actor and voice artist with over a hundred film and television credits. Most kids will recognize him from the three seasons he spent on Nickelodeon’s True Jackson, VP. Ron works regularly as a commercial and animation voice-over artist and has voiced a wide variety of audiobooks. He is a member of the Atlantic Theater Company and an Independent Filmmaker Project Award winner for his work in the HBO film Everyday People. In his spare time, he impersonates the president while playing the ukulele.

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