Belle Grove Plantation will celebrate Shenandoah Valley’s African American chefs, past and present, and soul food during an event from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.
The event will feature lectures and a lunch honoring local chefs at 1 p.m., including Ellen Williams Gant, Lucille Kent Williams, the Newman family of the Wayside Inn in Middletown, and Edwin Green of Po’ Green’s Southern Food and Barbecue in Front Royal.
“We have had tremendous response to this idea,” said Robin Lyttle, president of the Shenandoah Valley Black Heritage Project. “There were so many amazing chefs recommended to us who are so worthy of recognition. We look forward to honoring these individuals and will invoke the name of many others who shared their talents and passion for cooking with our community.”
The event will also feature a book signing of Dr. Brian C. Johnson’s latest book “Send Judah First: The Erased Life of an Enslaved Soul” - which chronicles an enslaved cook’s time at Belle Grove from 1817 to 1836. Johnson will also share a reading of the book during the event. Belle Grove also will be offering manor house tours throughout the day.
“Belle Grove is delighted to welcome the public, presenters, and honorees and their guests for this amazing day celebrating the soul food in the valley from the 1800s all the way to the present day,” said Kristen Laise, executive director at Belle Grove.
Laise said tickets for the meal are already sold out, but the Roaming Bistro food truck will be on-site to provide attendees with soul food and barbecue during the lunch hour. Attendees are also welcome to bring a picnic lunch or to visit restaurants in Middletown and Strasburg.
The event is free and open to the public. For a complete schedule for the event, visit bellegrove.org/calendar/soulfood.