Colonial Williamsburg welcomes its first Revolutionary in Residence

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Michael Twitty at work in the Peyton Randolph House kitchen in the Historic Area. (Courtesy Joe Straw)
Michael Twitty at work in the Peyton Randolph House kitchen in the Historic Area. (Courtesy Joe Straw)

Colonial Williamsburg is launching a new Revolutionaries in Residence program, and its first resident will be an acclaimed culinary historian and author.

The Revolutionary City will host modern-day innovators “with fresh perspectives that capture the spirit and relevance of its founding era” as a part of the Revolutionaries in Residence program, according to a press release from Colonial Williamsburg.

The first revolutionary in residence will be Michael Twitty, who will deliver the inaugural REV Talk Feb. 11 at 5:30 p.m. 

Twitty has worked to preserve and promote African-American foodways and culinary traditions, along with those of Africa, the American South and African Diaspora, according to the release. 

Twitty is the author of the upcoming book, “The Cooking Gene: A Journey through African-American Culinary History in the Old South,” scheduled for release later this year. 

He has presented his research at the Center for the Study of Southern Culture and the Southern Foodways Alliance, and in 2016 presented the TED Talk “Gastronomy and the Social Justice Reality of Food.”  He also operates the food blog Afroculinaria.

“Colonial Williamsburg has been a part of my life for almost four decades,” Twitty said in the press release. “I hope my presence will attract a wider audience to the pleasures of lifelong learning, exploring our past and moving forward into the future with purposeful vision. As we approach the incredible 400th year anniversary of African arrival in mainland British America, there needs to be a homecoming of all African-Americans to this very sacred place. The Historic Triangle has incredible stories to tell and Colonial Williamsburg is at its heart and I’m excited to help illuminate those stories.”

Twitty’s residence at Colonial Williamsburg coincides with the Foundation’s Black History Month programming. February programming includes the Films of Faith and Freedom series and original live dramatic programming at the Kimball Theatre in Merchants Square, the reopening of the Historic Area’s newly renovated African-American Religion Exhibit, and the ongoing exhibit “A Century of African-American Quilts” at the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum.

In addition to his REV Talk, Twitty is also scheduled to provide demonstrations and training for Historic Foodways staff and historical interpreters, according to the release. He will also collaborate with Colonial Williamsburg’s hospitality team on authentic new culinary offerings in the Historic Taverns and at Traditions Restaurant in the Williamsburg Lodge.

“With the Revolutionaries in Residence program, we engage thinkers who question convention and capture the disruptive spirit of America’s founding generation,” said Colonial Williamsburg President and CEO Mitchell B. Reiss.  “I can think of no one better suited to begin that journey than Michael Twitty, who illuminates huge aspects of our shared history that too often have been overlooked.”

Admission to Twitty’s REV Talk is $5 and seating is limited. Schedules, tickets and additional information about Colonial Williamsburg’s Black History Month events are available at ticketing locations including the Kimball Theatre box office, online at CW’s website, by calling 855-296-6627 or by visiting Colonial Williamsburg on Facebook.