Jessica B. Harris (born March 18, 1948)[1] is an American culinary historian, college professor, cookbook author and journalist. [2]

Jessica B. Harris
Jessica b. harris 5200765.jpg
Born (1948-03-18) March 18, 1948 (age 71)
Queens, New York
Alma materBryn Mawr College
Queens College, City University of New York
New York University
GenreNonfiction, memoir
SubjectCulinary history, personal history, New York City, the 1970s and 1980s, African diaspora
Notable awardsJames Beard Award

Early lifeEdit

Jessica B. Harris, an only child, was born in Queens, New York in 1948.[3] Her family also had a summer home on Martha's Vineyard.[3] From 1953 to 1961, Harris attended the United Nations International School in New York City.[3] She graduated from the High School of Performing Arts when she was sixteen years old and went on to earn an A.B. in French from Bryn Mawr College (1968).[3] Her junior year at Bryn Mawr, Harris studied in Paris.[4] Following graduation, Harris returned to France to study at the Universite de Nancy for one year.[4] She then earned her master's degree from Queens College (1971) and a Ph.D. from New York University (1983).[5] In 1972, Harris traveled to West Africa to work on her doctoral dissertation.[6]


In the 1970s, Harris worked as a journalist before becoming a food writer. She was book review editor at Essence and theater critic for New York Amsterdam News, the United States' oldest black newspaper.[3]

Harris is a member of the faculty in the English Department at Queens College/C.U.N.Y.[7] She hosts a monthly program, My Welcome Table, on Heritage Radio Network.[8] She has published 12 books.[9] Her primary subjects are the culinary history, foodways and recipes of the African diaspora. Harris was a 2004 winner of the lifetime achievement awards from the Southern Foodways Alliance[10] and a 2010 James Beard Foundation special award honoree.[11][12] Her most recent book is the memoir My Soul Looks Back (2017).[13]

Personal lifeEdit

Harris resides in Brooklyn, Martha's Vineyard and New Orleans.[14]

Works and publicationsEdit

  • My Soul Looks Back, Scribner, 2017 - 244 pages
  • The Martha's Vineyard Table, Chronicle Books, July 30, 2013 – 204 pages[15]
  • Rum Drinks: 50 Caribbean Cocktails, From Cuba Libre to Rum Daisy, Chronicle Books, July 23, 2013 – 168 pages
  • High on the Hog: A Culinary Journey from Africa to America, Bloomsbury Publishing USA, January 11, 2011 – 304 pages[16][17]
  • Beyond Gumbo: Creole Fusion Food from the Atlantic Rim, Simon & Schuster, February 25, 2003 – 400 pages[18][19][20]
  • Iron Pots & Wooden Spoons: Africa's Gifts to New World Cooking, Simon & Schuster, February 3, 1999 – 224 pages[21][22]
  • The Africa Cookbook: Tastes of a Continent, Simon and Schuster, 1998 – 382 pages
  • A Kwanzaa Keepsake: Celebrating the Holiday with New Traditions and Feasts, Simon & Schuster, 1998 – 176 pages
  • On the Side: More Than 100 Recipes for the Sides, Salads, and Condiments that Make the Meal, Simon & Schuster, 1998 – 176 pages
  • The Welcome Table: African-American Heritage Cooking, Simon & Schuster, February 2, 1995 – 285 pages
  • The World Beauty Book: How We Can All Look and Feel Wonderful Using the Natural Beauty Secrets of Women of Color, HarperSanFrancisco, 1995 – 211 pages
  • Tasting Brazil: Regional Recipes and Reminiscences, Macmillan, 1992 – 285 pages
  • Sky Juice and Flying Fish: Tastes Of A Continent, Simon & Schuster, 1991 – 240 pages
  • Hot Stuff: A Cookbook in Praise of the Piquant, Atheneum, 1985 – 278 pages


  1. ^ Damian Mosley, Interview with Jessica B. Harris, SFA Founders Oral History Project, December 28, 2005.
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b c d e Garner, Dwight (2017-05-09). "'My Soul Looks Back' Warmly Recalls New York's Black Elite in the 1970s". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-07-15.
  4. ^ a b "Jessica B. Harris | The HistoryMakers". Retrieved 2018-02-21.
  5. ^ "Education Makers - Jessica B. Harris". The HistoryMakers.
  6. ^ Brown, DeNeen (2011-03-08). "Q&A: Jessica Harris on African American food and 'High on the Hog'". ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2018-02-21.
  7. ^ "Queens College Department of English » Jessica Harris".
  8. ^ "My Welcome Table by Jessica B. Harris". Heritage Radio Network.
  9. ^ DeNeen Brown (March 8, 2011). "Q&A: Jessica Harris on African American food and 'High on the Hog'". Washington Post.
  10. ^ "2004 Lifetime Achievement Award Winners: Nathalie Dupree and Jessica Harris". Southern Foodways Alliance. Retrieved 2017-07-15.
  11. ^ "2010 James Beard Foundation Winners Announced". Kurman Communications. May 4, 2010.
  12. ^ Dwight Garner (January 25, 2011). "What Africa Brought to the Table". The New York Times.
  13. ^ Dayna Evans, "Do You Remember When Icons Could Preach and Boogie?", The Cut, May 9, 2017.
  14. ^ Nadler, Holly (5 September 2015). "After Katrina: Jessica Harris reflects on the hurricane's 10th anniversary". The Martha's Vineyard Times. Retrieved 15 July 2017.
  15. ^ "Nonfiction Book Review: The Martha's Vineyard Table by Jessica B. Harris, Author, Susie Cushner, Photographer . Chronicle $35 (203p) ISBN 978-0-8118-4999-9". Publishers Weekly. February 19, 2007. Retrieved 2017-07-15.
  16. ^ "HIGH ON THE HOG A Culinary Journey from Africa to America by Jessica B. Harris". Kirkus Reviews. October 4, 2010. Retrieved July 15, 2017.
  17. ^ Grimes, William (2011-01-07). "Book Review - High on the Hog - By Jessica B. Harris". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-07-15.
  18. ^ "Nonfiction Book Review: BEYOND GUMBO: Creole Fusion Food from the Atlantic Rim by Jessica Harris, Author . Simon & Schuster $27 (400p) ISBN 978-0-684-87062-5". Publishers Weekly. February 17, 2003. Retrieved 2017-07-15.
  19. ^ "Picks and Pans Review: Beyond Gumbo:Creole Fusion Food from the Atlantic Rim – Vol. 60 No. 19". People. 2003-11-10. Retrieved 2017-07-15.
  20. ^ Garner, Dwight (2003-06-01). "COOKING". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-07-15.
  21. ^ "Nonfiction Book Review: Iron Pots and Wooden Spoons: Africa's Gifts to New World Cooking by Jessica B. Harris, Author Atheneum Books $19.95 (195p) ISBN 978-0-689-11872-2". Publishers Weekly. June 1, 1989. Retrieved 2017-07-15.
  22. ^ "IRON POTS AND WOODEN SPOONS: Africa's Gifts to New World Cooking By Jessica B. Harris". Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved July 15, 2017.

External linksEdit