Meet Hercules Posey, George Washington’s Unsung Black Chef

Hercules Posey

Carla Hall, Marcus Samuelsson, Robert W. Lee - These are the names of only three of America's top African-American chefs. There is truly no shortage of these skilled persons in history. However, one name has gone without acknowledgment for decades. His name was Hercules Posey.

In April of 1789, General George Washington became the first President of the United States. During his time in office, Chef Hercules Posey joined the ranks of the White House kitchen. BBC comments in depth regarding Posey, claiming: "Posey was unique among his peers in that he was famous in his own time and was acknowledged by white society."

Posey's story, like the grand majority of black men and women of his time, was not documented or preserved well through the years. But through the praise and high regard of people such as Washington's descendent, George Washington Parke Custis, today we know that Posey was considered "'a culinary artiste' and 'dandy', with 'great muscular power' and a 'master spirit', whose 'underlings flew to his command.'"

His culinary skill may have been considered great in his time, but unfortunately, we have no survived record of his recipes. That said, BBC claims knowledge of accounts that detail "meals with each course featuring a dizzying variety among dishes like roasted beef, veal... puddings, jellies... oyster stews... ice cream and seasonal fish. All were accompanied by various wines and were elegantly presented." It's truly no wonder that American cuisine has always been driven and founded on the remarkable abilities of Black chefs.