Black Smoke: African Americans and the United States of Barbecue
The U.S. barbecue capitals of Memphis, Texas, the Carolinas and, of course, Kansas City bring unique techniques, flavors, and traditions to slow-smoking meats. Each claims to produce the best ’cue in the country, and hundreds of teams compete regionally and nationally for preeminence. But often overlooked in our now widely embraced barbecue culture and history is the prominent role of African Americans.
In a discussion of his new book Black Smoke: African Americans and the United States of Barbecue, James Beard Award-winning food writer Adrian Miller chronicles how Black pitmasters and restauranteurs – including some Kansas City legends – influenced this quintessential American cuisine, making them central to our nation’s barbecue narrative. It's a smoke-filled story of Black perseverance, culinary innovation, and entrepreneurship.
Miller’s first book, Soul Food: The Surprising Story of an American Cuisine, One Plate at a Time, won the James Beard Foundation Award for Scholarship and Reference. The Denver, Colorado-based author, who holds a law degree from Georgetown University and is a certified barbecue judge, also wrote The President’s Kitchen Cabinet: The Story of African Americans Who Have Fed Our First Families, from the Washingtons to the Obamas.
Watch his presentation live online at YouTube.com/kclibrary.