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It Takes a World to Make a Meal: The Human Costs of Feeding Virginia’s Elites

Leni Sorensen wearing a red T shirt and a black apron in a kitchen



Tompkins McCaw Library for the Health Sciences, Special Collections and Archives Reading Room
509 North 12th St., Richmond, Va. 23298


Enslaved people were instrumental in maintaining and developing the culinary traditions of 18th-century Virginia, particularly as well trained cooks and dining attendants. Leni Sorensen, Ph.D., food historian, talks about meals and the people who cooked them, from Martha Blogett's Cawson Plantation in the Tidewater to Mount Vernon.

Feel free to bring your lunch. Refreshments will also be provided.

This event is free and open to all, but please register. Parking is available for a fee in the 8th St. parking deck. If special accommodations are needed, please contact Thelma Mack, research and education coordinator, at (804) 828-0017.

About the Speaker

Leni Sorensen, Ph.D., is a culinary historian and teacher of home provisioning and rural life skills. She specializes in 18th- and 19th-century cooking methods used by Virginia housewives and enslaved people, including those who cooked for Thomas Jefferson. Most recently, she was selected by USA Today to represent Virginia in the article "50 States – 50 Female Chefs." She also owns Indigo House, a farm where she raises animals to cook and cultivates produce to serve at her chef's table dinners and cooking lessons.


This event is held in conjunction with the traveling National Library of Medicine exhibit Fire and Freedom: Food and Enslavement in Early America, on display in Tompkins-McCaw Library Jan. 6–Feb. 15.


VCU Libraries

James Branch Cabell Library Monroe Park Campus
901 Park Ave., Box 842033
Richmond, VA 23284-2033
Toll-free: (844) 352-7399
(804) 828-1111
All Libraries
Tompkins-McCaw Library MCV Campus
509 N. 12th St., Box 980582
Richmond, VA 23298-0582
Toll-free: (844) 352-7399
(804) 828-0636

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