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National Public Radio Telephone: 202.513.2000

635 Massachusetts Ave, NW Facsimile: 202.513.3045

Washington, DC 20001-3753 http://www.npr.org


Press release

or Immediate Release

September 29, 2004

Fred Baldassaro, 202-513-2304 / fbaldassaro@npr.org

Jenny Lawhorn, 202.513.2754 / jlawhorn@npr.org


The Hidden Kitchens Project: Stories of Land, Kitchen & Community

Fridays on Morning Edition from October 1-December 24
A New Radio Series from Peabody Award-Winning Producers

The Kitchen Sisters (Nikki Silva & Davia Nelson) and Jay Allison

WASHINGTON, DC – This fall, NPR presents a new series that brings the lure of food and vitality of kitchens to the radio. “The Hidden Kitchens Project,” a baker’s dozen of stories about how people come together through food, will air on NPR’s Morning Edition each Friday, from October 1 through December 24, 2004.

“Hidden Kitchens” opens a door to the world of unusual, historic and hidden kitchens—street corner cooking and legendary meals from across the country. The series chronicles an array of kitchen rituals and traditions, from kitchens tucked away in carwashes and bowling alleys to clambakes and church suppers. The stories feature an eclectic gathering of famous and everyday folks who find, grow, cook, sell, celebrate and think about food.

Produced by The Kitchen Sisters (Nikki Silva & Davia Nelson) and Jay Allison, “The Hidden Kitchens Project” is a nationwide collaboration that includes radio producers, community cooks, street vendors, grandmothers, chefs, anthropologists, foragers, public radio listeners and more. As with two previous award-winning series “Lost & Found Sound” and “The Sonic Memorial Project,” Hidden Kitchens invites listeners to participate by calling or writing with their own stories of significant and unusual kitchens, family food traditions, community ceremonies and recipes. To submit stories, listeners can visit www.hiddenkitchens.org or call the NPR Hidden Kitchens Phone Line at (202) 408-0300.
In addition to the Friday series, Morning Edition will feature 13 bonus morsels of the best listeners’ stories, culled from the Hidden Kitchens Phone Line, on other days of the week. Listeners can also access “The Hidden Kitchens Project” at an interactive Website (www.hiddenkitchens.org) that offers behind-the-scenes stories and photographs. The Website will provide yet another way for listeners to participate with their own food memories, kitchen wisdom and recipes.
October 1 The Call for Kitchens. Jay Allison, Curator of the "Quest for Kitchens" presents an array of phone messages and stories from NPR listeners telling about the hidden kitchens, kitchen pioneers and food rituals across the country.

October 8 The George Foreman Kitchen. Sometimes life without a kitchen leads to the most unexpected hidden kitchen of all. This piece features a lengthy interview with boxing champion and grillmaster, George Forman.

October 15 The Chili Queens of San Antonio. Some kitchens are hidden by place, some by time—like the saga of the chili queens. For over 100 years, young women came at twilight to the Alamo and the plazas of San Antonio with makeshift tables and big pots of chili to cook over open fires. The plazas teemed with people—soldiers, tourists, cattlemen and the troubadours who roamed the tables, filling the night with music.

October 22 NASCAR Kitchens. Behind every car race is a kitchen—hidden in the crew pit, or tucked between the hauler and the trailer of the trucks that transport NASCAR and Indy cars from city to city. Public radio listener John Wheeler cooks for the drivers, haulers, pit crews, sponsors and owners on the racing circuit. He called the Hidden Kitchens line to tell us about his world. This story travels America, chronicling NASCAR food and the people who make and eat it.

October 29 Campaign Cooking. Fish fries, clambakes, pancake breakfasts, shad plank dinners in Maryland, boucheries in Louisiana. To know the people's mood you must eat the people's food. This story shows how what we eat reflects how we vote. We’ll meet politicians, volunteers and community cooks; reporters on campaign buses and the food and stories that are fed to them.
November 5 Burgoo. What is it about men and meat and midnight and a pit? A look at the ritual of roasting communally. At all-night buffalo barbeques in North Dakota, burgoo parish picnics in Kentucky, and the birth of a union that was forged over a goat roast in Texas. This is about the primal urge to gather, cook, drink, and talk.

November 12 Ricing. A harvest journey through the lakes of the Anishinabe tribes of Minnesota. The wild rice harvest brings families to the lakes where the rice is poled and gently knocked into the bed of canoes. How one tribe is supporting itself through its harvest kitchen and changing the diet of its people through their community kitchen projects.

November 26  America Eats. Lying patiently in the archives of the Library of Congress for over 50 years, the America Eats archive waits to be discovered and presented to the nation.  This little-known WPA project has never been published, and this Hidden Kitchen program will be one of the first times a larger public has had a chance to explore this remarkable chronicle of American foodways from the 1930’s.  Writers Nelson Algren, Saul Bellow, Richard Wright, Zora Neale Hurston, photographer Stetson Kennedy and dozens of other writers and photographers were sent throughout the country for a national program called “America Eats”—a series of guides showing the impact of immigration and customs on the food traditions of each region. Part of the Illinois Writers Project, Algren’s assignment was to document the Midwest. Stetson Kennedy’s was Florida.  Another writer told of Hopi Baptismal corn rituals in Arizona, another wrote of foot washing breakfasts in Mississippi.   They wrote short essays on what they called "community eating events."  The writing is deep, the photographs memorable.  America Eats was never completed or published because of America's entry into World War II.  Our story will pick up where the America Eats project left off. We are in the process of finding families and communities who have upheld or lost the culinary traditions captured by this project.   A treasure trove of photographs from this hidden archive will be featured on www.npr.org.

December 24 More Stories from the ‘Hidden Kitchens’ Hotline. The Hidden Kitchens hotline received hundreds of messages from across America. We end the year by sharing some of the stories about food and the fellowship it fosters.

March 4, 2005 The Club from Nowhere. The story of the secret civil rights kitchens –food centers tucked away in houses that that fueled an American movement. The Club from Nowhere was created by Georgia Gilmore, who organized women to bake pies, cookies, and cakes that funded the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The baked goods were sold in beauty salons and on corners to support the marchers. Gilmore lost her job in a cafeteria after her organizing efforts were discovered. She was funded by Martin Luther King, among others, to create a secret restaurant in her home. Dr. King and leaders of the movement, both black and white –Robert Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson included – would meet over fried chicken to fight for integration and change.

More to come in 2005:

“The Hidden Kitchens Project” will also feature an hour-long special program, narrated by Academy Award winning actress Frances McDormand, which will air on public radio stations throughout the country.

The Kitchen Sisters (Davia Nelson & Nikki Silva) have been producing radio programs together since 1979. They are the creators of the 1999 Peabody Award winning series, Lost & Found Sound and the 2002 Peabody Award winning series The Sonic Memorial Project. Aired on NPR’s All things Considered, these groundbreaking national collaborations have brought together independent producers, NPR, stations, artists, writers, archivists, historians and public radio listeners throughout the country to create memorable and significant radio.

Jay Allison is an independent broadcast journalist. His work airs on NPR’s All Things Considered, PRI’s This American Life, ABC News' Nightline, and other national programs. He is the recipient of four Peabody Awards and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting¹s Edward R. Murrow Award for outstanding contributions to public radio, the industry's highest honor. He is the director of Atlantic Public Media and the founder of WCAI/WNAN, the public radio service for Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket. He is also an innovator in online projects for public broadcasting, including Transom.org and The Public Radio Exchange (PRX.org).

NPR is renowned for journalistic excellence and standard-setting news and entertainment programming. A privately supported, non-profit, membership organization, NPR serves a growing audience of more than 22 million Americans each week via more than 770 public radio stations. International partners in cable, satellite and short-wave services make NPR programming accessible anywhere in the world. With original online content and audio streaming, npr.org offers hourly newscasts, special features and seven years of archived audio and information.

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