Tag Archives: Rufus Estes was the first African-American to publish a cookbook

Take a Look Inside a Cookbook Published More Than 100 Years Ago

“One of the pleasures in life to the normal man is good eating, and if it be true that real happiness consists in making others happy, the author can at least feel a sense of gratification in the thought that his attempts to satisfy the cravings of the inner man have not been wholly unappreciated by the many that he has had the pleasure of serving–some of whom are now his stanchest friends.”

These are the words of Chef Rufus Estes, author of Good Things to Eat. It is evident from his book that Estes–who is credited as being the first African American to write and publish a cookbook–truly enjoyed the culinary arts.

When Chef Estes wrote this book in 1911, he was Chef of the subsidiary companies of the U.S. Steel Corporation in Chicago. Some of his best-know recipes include Creole-style chicken gumbo, chestnut stuffing with truffles, and cherry dumplings.

Chef Estes’ range of specialties was quite extensive. Take a look through the book’s table of contents and you will find countless recipes for soup, soufflés, fish, beef, veal, pork, poultry, stuffing, salads, vegetables, breads, preserves, relishes, sauces, and a wide array of desserts.

Here is an excerpt from Good Things to Eat about Estes’ early life and how he grew to become a well-known and respected chef.