In 1971, the Johnson Publishing Company installed a test kitchen for Ebony magazine at the firm’s Chicago headquarters. Used by editors to test recipes for the publication’s “A Date with a Dish” column, the kitchen elevated African American food to the national culinary conversation. Bonus: It was located in an equally groundbreaking office tower—the first in Chicago to be designed by an African American architect, John Warren Moutoussamy.
The kitchen was in use until 2010, when Johnson Publishing shut it down and sold the building, but a new exhibit by the Museum of Food and Drink (MOFAD) and The Africa Center in Harlem celebrates its design and gives people a chance to explore the space.
On display at Aliko Dangote Hall until July 17, the Ebony Magazine Test Kitchen is part of the new exhibit African/American: Making the Nation’s Table. As rebuilt, the kitchen is a psychedelic wonder that exudes Black style, with Afrocentric prints, leather, and ostrich feathers. “It has all kinds of orange, purple, avocado green, and rust colors,” said curatorial director Catherine Piccoli.