Nat Fuller, Charleston’s first top chef

Charleston's Renaissance Gallery, formerly Nat Turner's kitchen

Charleston’s Renaissance Gallery, formerly Nat Turner’s kitchen

Tonight is the celebratory feast! This is from David Shields, food scholar and historian. Thank you David! “150 years ago Nat Fuller, Charleston’s great chef, held a banquet to mark the end of the Civil War and the beginning of peace. He invited his longstanding white clients, some members of the provisional government, and friends from the city’s African American elite to sit as guests at his table and to learn how to interact respectfully with one another. It was a time of privation–rice rations were dispensed daily by the Union Army agents to Charleston’s 15,000 residents. Yet Fuller’s many contacts in the world of food, including old friends from Washington Market in NYC, supplied him with a bounty of fine ingredients. About 80 people ate at the original. Tonight a similar number will commemorate that dinner in Charleston and Columbia at The Bachelor’s Retreat, in Charleston to remind celebrants of Fuller’s self-possession, his generosity, and his love of the arts of peace.” Read more from the Post and Courier here. And the beautiful online resource created for Nat Fuller here, by the Lowcountry Digital History Initiative, an amazing site. WOW.

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I was called to be an artist. And as an old old midwife said to me "If the Lord wants you to do something, you won't have no good luck' til you do." So, here I am, sharing what I love, longing to illuminate the work of art, which is everywhere.

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Posted in Charleston South Carolina, Food, Gullah, South Carolina History
9 comments on “Nat Fuller, Charleston’s first top chef
  1. elitists then as now history is written by by the winners

  2. great grandpa used to get in trouble for speaking Gullah at the dinner table.great great grandma was (illegally) teaching slaves how to read with Secunda Grimke, while great great Look up McPherosgrandpa was helping draft the first Ordinance of Secession(SC)-and the shortest by the way-Look up McPhersonville,SC-all that is left is a church and a plaque

    • Michael, thank God that that our ancestor’s Secession idea failed (I saw Charles Woodward Hutson’s letter detailing that event in the Hutson folder at the SCHS) and that the Gullah history is honored and respected today. We have come a long way.

    • M E Pavlovsky says:

      I am researching Mary Augusta Secunda Grimke (in 1895, she died in my house in Perth Amboy, NJ, while visiting her cousin Cornelia Bell Paterson/Mrs JL Boggs). How did you come by the info that Miss Secunda and your ancestor, Sophronia, secretly taught slaves to read? Is this family lore? Do you have letters, or any other info that documents their illegal and very brave activity? I’d love to hear more! Thanks!

  3. Kim in Fiji says:

    I would love to be sitting at that table. I’m thinking “harmony” and hominy – but if he was a master chef, hominy probably didn’t make it to the menu. Anyhow – thanks for this!

    • Here is the menu, Kim! And this by 64 yr old semi retired chef Kevin Michael:”The family at dinner, the sacrament of communion, picnics — nothing draws folks together like a shared meal. It is where lifelong relationships are begun and celebrated. Eating together is a universal ritual with the same message: We belong together.

      It is no wonder that Nat Fuller launched the first “Reconciliation Banquet” in Charleston after the Civil War. He was no doubt mindful of the symbolism of a shared meal. The re-enactment of this banquet can remind us of our own connectedness and interdependence. But most importantly, it shows how the simple act of breaking bread together can repair breaches created by war, hatred and social injustices.”

      Nat Fuller’s Feast
      April 19, 2015

      Cocktail Reception
      Nat Fuller’s Cocktails
      Brandy Smash
      Mint Julep
      Gin with Bitters
      Persimmon Beer
      Carbonated Shrubs

      Passed Hors D’oeuvres
      Brioche with Foie Gras Mousse, Strawberry Jam, Pickled Spring Onions
      Benne Tart Shells with Lobster Salad and Caviar
      Warm Rice Bread with Smoked Tongue and Chow Chow
      Chicken and Truffle Pies

      Bill of Fare for the Feast

      Potage
      Mock Turtle Soup
      Oyster Soup with Celery

      Relishes
      Mixed Pickled Vegetables
      Bradford Watermelon Pickles
      Marinated Olives
      Collard Kraut

      Poisson
      Fried Whiting
      Shrimp Pie
      Poached Bass
      Worcestershire Anchovy Sauce, Mushroom Ketchup,
      Walnut Ketchup, Butter Caper Sauce

      Volaille
      Capon Chasseur
      Aged Duck with Seville Oranges
      Partridge with Truffle Sauce

      Viande
      Venison with Currant Demi
      Lamb Chops with Mint Sauce
      Beef a la Mode

      Legumes
      Asparagus, Roasted Turnips, Fresh Peas, Baby Beets,
      Roasted Potatoes, Carolina Gold Rice, Potato Puree

      Desserts
      Charlotte Russe
      Almond Cake
      Blanc Mange
      Punch Cakes
      Vanilla and Pineapple Ice Creams

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What’s this?

Welcome to my blog about the Lowcountry of South Carolina, a place proud with beauty, history and art. Sometimes we feel a call, to be, to go, to do. I was called to be an artist, and as an old midwife from Alabama said, “If the good Lord wants you to do something, you won’t have no good luck until you do it.”

So here I am writing about what I know, about the 'under glimmer' as the poet Basho, says, the way I have learned to see, to notice. I am inspired by, and talking about the history and art and culture of this place that has called me to herself. By the ancestors.

My background includes a degree in fine arts from a small private college in Florida, and before that, four years of all girls' boarding school in Asheville. I worked as a professional photographer, helped my children grow up, and now and I love seasoned things, good food, better conversation, beauty, my beloved and beautiful Italian Greyhound, Beau. Moved by the sacred places and stories of this beautiful historic land called the Lowcountry, I am here in spirit and I hope to infect you with my love of this place.

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