Scott, first African American woman to be featured on PBS’s America’s Test Kitchen, appearing in virtual talk on Feb. 22 at 6:30 p.m.
In honor of Black History Month, Lafayette College’s McDonogh Network and Office of Intercultural Development, in partnership with Lehigh University’s Office of Multicultural Affairs, will welcome Chef Elle Simone Scott, the first African American woman to be featured on PBS’s America’s Test Kitchen, for a virtual presentation Feb. 22 at 6:30 p.m.
“I’m really thrilled to bring her on board, to just open up her world and to have her share her inspiring narrative,” says Rob Young ’14, director of intercultural development, who helped arrange the keynote event.
“Elle’s career path and the intersectionality of her identities are inspiring to many scholars when thinking about their road maps for impacting society when leaving Lafayette,” he says. “The foundation of a liberal arts education allows students to highlight their interests when selecting a major(s) and transforming theory into actual practice.”
Scott has made it clear that she wants to engage her audience in a dynamic Q&A session to open a broader, livelier dialogue beyond what often occurs in a virtual space, he adds.
Food, her main passion, creates a universal commonality and supersedes all prejudices, Young says, adding that it opens a gateway to understanding the culture, traditions, and, often, heritage outside of our own.
“Food is healing; it’s communal and always creates a great story to share,” he says. “There’s a story behind why we can make the same foods differently, and sharing them with others generates cultural appreciation.”
Young says he was moved by Scott’s personal story of being a woman of color, who’s also bisexual, and how she has navigated the multi-layered, multicultural world of the culinary arts and her career as executive editor and founder of the Diversity Council at America’s Test Kitchen, PBS’s most popular cooking show.
He says the audience can expect to hear Scott discuss her career as a chef, but also her philosophy on helping to address health disparities and food scarcity.
A Michigan native, Scott, who holds a Bachelor of Science in human services from Eastern Michigan University, began her career as a social worker in Detroit. At 28, she lost her job, car, and home during the 2008 recession. In 2010, she attended culinary school to pursue her love of cooking. Her studies and experience led to an internship with the Food Network, and production jobs at Bravo, Cooking Channel, ABC’s The Chew, and PBS’s Cook’s Country.
In 2016, Chef Scott became the first African American woman to appear as a regular onscreen cook on America’s Test Kitchen. She creates content for America’s Test Kitchen as well as the show’s social media, and works to boost the program’s diversity efforts and culture of inclusion by focusing on mentoring, recruiting, and retention. Scott is also a food stylist for Cook’s Country and the host of America’s Test Kitchen’s “The Walk-In” podcast, which features intimate conversations with people making a difference in the culinary industry.
She’s the founder of SheChef Inc., a mentoring program and networking program for women of color in the culinary arts. Scott is a fierce advocate for the United States Department of Agriculture’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and ovarian cancer research. She serves on the boards of Women Chefs & Restaurateurs, New England Culinary Arts Training, Women in Hospitality United, and the Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance.
As founder of the Diversity Council at America’s Test Kitchen, she also works to boost its diversity efforts and promote a culture of inclusion with a specific focus on recruiting, mentorship, and retention. In her spare time, she launched “The Walk-In,” an America’s Test Kitchen podcast that features the food world’s difference-makers.
With her creative eye for telling a story with food and her unique contribution to the dialogue surrounding women in business, Scott has appeared on Food Network, Food Network Magazine, Cooking Channel, Katie Couric Show, ABC’s The Chew, and Bravo’s Chef Roblé and Co. She also has been featured in stories in the Boston Globe, Forbes, Eater, and on the Tom Joyner Morning Show and National Public Radio.
Celebrating Black Excellence Kickoff Event
Atrium of Farinon College Center | Feb. 3, 4-5 p.m.
The Office of Intercultural Development has named “Celebrating Black Excellence” as the theme for this year’s Black History Month. This special kick-off event for the campus community featured music and a 360 booth.
In Conversation: Chawne Kimber
Sigal Museum, 342 Northampton St., Easton | Feb. 24 at 6 p.m. via Zoom
As a renowned quilt artist, Kimber, former professor of mathematics at Lafayette, will explore the history of cotton production and the historical and contemporary issues of racism and social justice. Her quilts have been acquired by many leading institutions, including the Smithsonian, the International Quilt Museum, and the Petrucci Family Foundation. In this installment of our In Conversation series, Kimber will discuss quilting as a means of expression and as a therapeutic outlet, the role of quilt making in the preservation of stories, the many roles of labor involved in the quilting process, and quilting as a path toward social justice.
Easton Out Loud (Fourth Friday)
Sigal Museum visit with the Office of Intercultural Development | Feb. 25, 5-9 p.m.
Each fourth Friday of the month, the Sigal Museum hosts extended hours with free admission, gallery tours, and museum interactives. Celebrate Black History Month with the Office of Intercultural Development by enjoying its exhibit Another American’s Autobiography: Selections from the Petrucci Family Foundation Collection of African American Art, where more than 20 artists grapple with themes of patriotism, identity, and allegiance in the 21st century.