A chef carries a tray of food.

At an event Monday afternoon at Kennedy-King College, there was only one thing on the menu: soul food. Immediately upon entering the Great Hall, guests were greeted with photos of iconic Chicago soul food restaurants like Army and Lou’s, Edna’s, and Soul Queen to name a few, and the smells of the comfort food these restaurants serve.

The photos displayed at the event’s entrance were taken from the book Chicago’s Soul: The Heart of Chicago’s Soul Food Dining. The book is made up of photos and stories about soul food restaurants in Chicago. It was created by Kennedy-King Associate Professor Gail Mitchell and her publication design students. The project took about two years to complete. Students photographed restaurants and Professor Mitchell wrote excerpts to accompany the photos. The book is available for purchase.

“It feels great to see this come into fruition and shed light on the graphics communication department,” Professor Mitchell shared. “We’re a small but mighty department that does a lot of things in Englewood. It feels so good to celebrate this during Black History Month because soul food is a part of our culture.

Guests at this event were immersed in the world of soul food and had the opportunity to taste the very items they were reading about. Students from Kennedy-King’s Washburne Culinary & Hospitality Institute along with chefs from Peaches and Bettie Lou’s provided classic soul food dishes like red beans and rice, shrimp and grits, chicken and waffles, and sweet tea. There were also twists on classics available such as red velvet ice cream, salmon croquette balls, and barbecue cauliflower.

In addition to tasting soul food, guests learned about the history of soul food which has roots in the rural southern United States during slavery. There was also a panel discussion about the restaurant business, the Black cultural connection to soul food, and ways to make soul food healthier by Chef Cliff Rome from Peaches, Chef Kelley  from Bettie Lou’s, and Chef Erica McGhee  from Washburne Culinary & Hospitality Institute moderated by WVON’s Rufus Williams.