Dr. Jessica B. Harris

EXCLUSIVE
  • A Leading Authority on the Food of the African Diaspora
  • Consultant and Culinary Historian
  • New York Times Bestselling Author of 'High on the Hog' and 17 Other Books
  • Recipient of the James Beard Lifetime Achievement Award

Dr. Jessica B. Harris is one of the ranking authorities on the culture, cuisine, and community of the African Diaspora. Her New York Times bestselling cookbook, High on the Hog, was the basis for the acclaimed Peabody Award-winning Netflix series of the same name. Dr. Harris led the Culinary Institute of America’s African Diaspora Foodways Initiative, conceptualized the award-winning cafeteria of the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture, and served as lead curator for the exhibit African/American: Making the Nation’s Table presented by New York’s Museum of Food and Drink. Dr. Harris was a professor at Queens College/CUNY in New York for five decades and is currently professor emerita at that institution while consulting internationally. Dr. Harris’s unique depth of expertise and brilliant intellect inspire every audience member’s thirst for knowledge

Dr. Harris’s work has been honored with the James Beard Lifetime Achievement Award, and her books were inducted into the James Beard Cookbook Hall of Fame. She was named to the TIME Most Influential People list and is the winner of the 2023 IACP Award for Culinary History. As a speaker, Dr. Harris has been sought by Sysco, Rutgers University, Adobe, and more.

 



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Dr. Jessica B. Harris headshot
Past Hosts Include:
  • Upperman African American Cultural Center, UNCW
  • African Diaspora Consortium & Columbia University
  • Adobe Systems Inc.
  • Sysco
  • Coastal Georgia Historical Society
  • American Society of Agronomy
  • Rutgers University
  • John G. Riley Center & Museum for African American History and Culture, Inc.
  • Plenty
  • Wake Forest University
Rave Reviews About Dr. Jessica B. Harris as a Speaker
We LOVED having Dr. Harris on campus. She was a huge hit!

Freedom Lecture: Food, Tradition & Wellness with Dr. Jessica B. Harris | National Underground Railroad Freedom Center - Get Sharable Link
Talks & Conversations with Dr. Jessica B. Harris
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Cooking & Conversation: ‘High on the Hog’

Culinary historian and New York Times bestselling author of High on the Hog DR. JESSICA B. HARRIS has captivated audiences internationally with her Peabody Award-winning Netflix series. In this engaging conversation, Dr. Harris shares the stories of her career alongside some of her favorite heritage ...

Culinary historian and New York Times bestselling author of High on the Hog DR. JESSICA B. HARRIS has captivated audiences internationally with her Peabody Award-winning Netflix series. In this engaging conversation, Dr. Harris shares the stories of her career alongside some of her favorite heritage dishes.

Book purchases and signings with Dr. Jessica B. Harris are available upon request.

Hawkers, Caterers, & Restaurateurs: African Atlantic Pathways to Wealth

Drawing on her landmark exhibit African/American: Making the Nation’s Table presented by New York’s Museum of Food and Drink, DR. JESSICA B. HARRIS examines how African Americans in the United States and the diaspora used food as a vehicle for the creation of personal wealth. Drawing links between h ...

Drawing on her landmark exhibit African/American: Making the Nation’s Table presented by New York’s Museum of Food and Drink, DR. JESSICA B. HARRIS examines how African Americans in the United States and the diaspora used food as a vehicle for the creation of personal wealth. Drawing links between her archival research and today’s thriving African American culinary scene, Dr. Harris shares the cultural links that bind the countries of the hemisphere to the African continent.

Putting Gender on the Table

Culinary historian DR. JESSICA B. HARRIS shares her thoughts on the historically gendered roles of women and men in the world of food, providing insight into how we can form a more equitable future. ...

Culinary historian DR. JESSICA B. HARRIS shares her thoughts on the historically gendered roles of women and men in the world of food, providing insight into how we can form a more equitable future.

Studying the Silence: Approaches to African American History

Foremost expert in African Diaspora culture DR. JESSICA B. HARRIS shares how her research methods for looking for what is unsaid, alluded to, or simply ignored can give a more fully rounded picture of history. Applicable to academic, institutional, and personal intellectual pursuits, Dr. Harris prov ...

Foremost expert in African Diaspora culture DR. JESSICA B. HARRIS shares how her research methods for looking for what is unsaid, alluded to, or simply ignored can give a more fully rounded picture of history. Applicable to academic, institutional, and personal intellectual pursuits, Dr. Harris provides the tools to fill in gaps of the archive with empathy, care, and respect.

Serve It Up: Food, Museums, & Community

Lauded for the success of her culinary community engagement, James Beard Lifetime Achievement Award winner DR. JESSICA B. HARRIS examines several ways in which including food can increase community outreach and improve attendance. Having successfully conceptualized the award-winning cafeteria of the ...

Lauded for the success of her culinary community engagement, James Beard Lifetime Achievement Award winner DR. JESSICA B. HARRIS examines several ways in which including food can increase community outreach and improve attendance. Having successfully conceptualized the award-winning cafeteria of the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture, Dr. Harris has firsthand experience crafting a menu of community outreach.

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Speaker News
<p><strong>Dr. Jessica B. Harris receives consistent rave reviews for her live events</strong></p>

Dr. Jessica B. Harris receives consistent rave reviews for her live events

Culinary historian DR. JESSICA B. HARRIS consistently delights hosts at her live engagements. With five decades of experience as a beloved professor at Queens College/CUNY in New York, Dr. Harris’s ongoing guest lectures are always sold out. Here’s what her hosts have to say:

  • Iowa State University: “We LOVED having Dr. Harris on campus. She was a huge hit!”
  • UNCW: "Our MLK Celebration was great! Dr. Jessica Harris presented a phenomenal keynote. Everyone enjoyed her presence at the VIP Reception and during the event."
  • National Underground Railroad Freedom Center: "Dr. Harris is so awe inspiring and knowledgeable, it was an absolute honor.”

Watch Dr. Jessica B. Harris speak at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center >>

Watch Dr. Jessica B. Harris in conversation with The Strand >>

<p><strong>Dr. Jessica B. Harris honors history by uplifting contemporary restaurateurs</strong></p>

Dr. Jessica B. Harris honors history by uplifting contemporary restaurateurs

Leading authority on the food of the African Diaspora DR. JESSICA B. HARRIS is a curatorial genius. She served as lead curator for the exhibit African/American: Making the Nation’s Table presented by New York’s Museum of Food and Drink. Dr. Harris’s ability to tell human stories through contemporary technology and breathe to life an often-untold history touched the hundreds of visitors. Honoring those who carry on the legacy of forgotten chefs, Dr. Harris highlighted Black food and drink businesses with an interactive map. While facilitating crucial dialogue about the connective capabilities of food, Dr. Harris is a champion for the ingenious creativity still practiced in African American cultural traditions.

Watch Dr. Jessica B. Harris present at the Library of Congress >>

Watch Dr. Jessica B. Harris in conversation with The Washington Post >>

<p><strong>Bestselling author and historian Jessica B. Harris was “spectacular” in her event for Columbia University</strong></p>

Bestselling author and historian Jessica B. Harris was “spectacular” in her event for Columbia University

Considered one of the ranking authorities on food of the African Diaspora, New York Times bestselling author DR. JESSICA B. HARRIS delivered a transcendent presentation for the African Diaspora Consortium & Columbia University – receiving rave reviews. An award-winning author, Dr. Harris was named to the TIME 100 Most Influential People and authored the book behind the Peabody-winning Netflix series, High on the Hog. When Dr. Harris visited Columbia University, the response was resounding: “It was spectacular! Naturally, Dr. Harris’ presentation was off the chart. Dr. Harris brought us a level of credibility that is already taking our work to a new level. Her presentation was the highlight of our event.”

The host followed up with additional praise, saying: “We fully anticipated the gravitas that her scholarship would bring to the occasion. However, her facility with language, particularly her ability to code switch effortlessly from one language to another and from one dialect to another, was an eyebrow raiser. Another noticeable asset was her ability to relate to the audience as a classroom teacher herself. I cannot imagine that we could have found a more appropriate speaker for the Workshop.”

Watch Dr. Jessica B. Harris’ keynote for the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center >>

<p><strong>Culinary historian Dr. Jessica B. Harris’ new Netflix docu-series <em>High on the Hog </em>receives the Peabody Award</strong></p>

Culinary historian Dr. Jessica B. Harris’ new Netflix docu-series High on the Hog receives the Peabody Award

New York Times bestselling author and culinary historian DR. JESSICA B. HARRIS has a new Netflix series, High on the Hog: How African American Cuisine Transformed America, chronicling the rich history of Black American food and its profound impact on American culture. Based on her New York Times bestselling book of the same name, Dr. Harris’ docu-series has received significant acclaim, including nominations for an NAACP Image Award for “Outstanding Documentary,” an IDA Documentary Award for “Best Multi-Part Documentary,” and a Peabody Award. Sharing stories of Black joy and liberation, Mashable has called the series: “a celebration of culture and cultural preservation that not only inspires but urges viewers to appreciate the complex origins of food and family tradition as part of our global history.”

A masterful storyteller, Dr. Harris is regarded as the leading expert in Black culinary history, and her new series is featured on numerous “best of” lists including Variety, The Root, The Hollywood Reporter, and more. She is a prolific cookbook author and the winner of a James Beard Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award, and shares with riveted audiences her depth of research and an engaging narrative history of African American cuisine. In an interview with Oprah Daily about the series, Harris says: “Food is such an absolute part of the human condition. That is something every person can connect with. It's the one thing on which we are all experts. […] we bring our history to the plate every time we sit down.”

Watch Dr. Jessica B. Harris present at the Library of Congress >>

Watch Dr. Jessica B. Harris in conversation with The Washington Post >>

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Books by Dr. Jessica B. Harris
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Biography

Jessica B. Harris is considered by many to be one of the ranking authorities on the food of the African Diaspora. A New York Times bestselling author, she is the author, editor, or translator of eighteen books, including twelve cookbooks documenting the foodways of the African Diaspora. Her award-winning book, High on the Hog, was the basis for the acclaimed Netflix series of the same name.

She has lectured widely and written extensively for scholarly and popular publications. Harris consults internationally, is leading the Culinary Institute of America’s team to establish an African Diaspora concentration, and worked with the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture conceptualizing its cafeteria.

Dr. Harris holds degrees from Bryn Mawr College, Queens College/CUNY, The Université de Nancy, France, and New York University. She was granted an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Johnson & Wales University and holds numerous awards and accolades. In 2019, Harris’s books were inducted into the James Beard Cookbook Hall of Fame and she was the 2020 James Beard Lifetime Achievement awardee. She was named to the 2021 TIME Most Influential People list. Dr. Harris was a professor at Queens College/CUNY in New York for five decades and is currently professor emerita at that institution.

Visit Dr. Harris' website for more information.