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A Sweet, Southern Thanksgiving Treat From B. Smith

Filed by KOSU News in Art & Life.
November 22, 2011

As Thanksgiving approaches, you can almost smell and taste the turkey, buttered collard greens and soft corn bread stuffing. As a pre-feast treat, Tell Me More guest host Tony Cox visits a woman whose name to many is synonymous with fine Southern cuisine and entertaining: Barbara Smith, also known as B. Smith.

Today, she runs restaurants, writes cookbooks and designs a home goods collection. But before all this, she was a model who graced the covers of such magazines as Mademoiselle and Ebony. How did she go from fashion to food?

“I learned to cook with my parents. Holidays, we had Thanksgiving. That was our family holiday. Christmas was always at my grandmother’s, and Easter was at my aunt’s,” she tells Cox. “I didn’t take any classes. I didn’t go culinary school. Instead, I got on the board of the Culinary Institute.”

Smith was the first African-American woman elected to the board of the prestigious Culinary Institute of America.

The Presidential Suite

Today, one of B. Smith’s most striking restaurants is located in Washington, D.C., in what was once known as the “presidential suite” at Union Station. The suite was created after the assassinations of Presidents Garfield and McKinley, to increase the safety of traveling commanders-in-chief and their families. While the suite no longer serves its official purpose, Smith hosted an inaugural event for first lady Michelle Obama there in 2009.

B. Smith Knows Bread Pudding

One of the mouth-watering treats that the restaurant serves is bread pudding, which Cox tasted before his interview with Smith. Executive Chef Karida Celestine prepared the dessert, topping it off with bourbon sauce and pumpkin ice cream. [Copyright 2011 National Public Radio]

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