LI Accepts Proposal for Ebony Test Kitchen: Press Release


May 21, 2019

Media Contacts:

Kaitlyn McAvoy
Communications Manager, Landmarks Illinois

Landmarks Illinois Accepts Proposal from Museum of Food and Drink to Showcase Ebony Test Kitchen in Future Exhibition

CHICAGO – Landmarks Illinois is excited to announce it has accepted a proposal from the Museum of Food and Drink (MOFAD) in Brooklyn, New York, to take possession of the iconic former Ebony Test Kitchen and prominently feature it in its anticipated national exhibition, African/American: Making the Nation’s Table. The exhibition, for which MOFAD is currently fundraising, will be dedicated to celebrating the impact African Americans have had on American cuisine. Landmarks Illinois believes it will provide an appropriate venue where the Ebony Test Kitchen’s unique story and historic significance can be shared with a large audience.

MOFAD’s proposal was one Landmarks Illinois received from interested parties and organizations during its request for proposal period that ended May 1, 2019. Following a review of proposals in early May by Landmarks Illinois staff and an advisory panel of professionals, Landmarks Illinois selected MOFAD’s proposal for the kitchen for long-term use in its future exhibit. Landmarks Illinois and MOFAD now enter a negotiation period for a use agreement and to establish benchmarks and expectations to move the disassembled kitchen into MOFAD’s care.

“MOFAD’s impressive proposal included in-depth detail of how the kitchen would be preserved and cared for as it travels around the country in the coming years,” said Lisa DiChiera, Landmarks Illinois Director of Advocacy. “Landmarks Illinois is excited to move forward with MOFAD as a partner as we collectively ensure this crucial fixture of Black entrepreneurship, cuisine and culture is activated and venerated.”

MOFAD’s exhibition team is led by renowned author Dr. Jessica B. Harris. She is supported by a committee of advisors that includes Questlove, Michael Twitty, Carla Hall and Marcus Samuelsson.

“For many African Americans who lived in the second half of the 20th century, Ebony was a touchstone that inspired, informed and defined,” said Dr. Harris. “It would not be hyperbole to say that the magazine had a large part in forming the aspirations of more than two generations of African Americans. It is difficult to overstate its importance.”

African/American is targeted to debut in 2020, but the timeline and touring schedule will be dependent on MOFAD’s fundraising progress.

“We are now seeking leadership gifts to produce African/American with the kitchen as its centerpiece,” said Peter J. Kim, MOFAD Executive Director. “We look forward to connecting with individuals and companies that are interested in sharing the story of this historical treasure with millions of people around the country.”

The Ebony Test Kitchen was previously housed in the Johnson Publishing Company Building, designed by John Warren Moutoussamy and a designated Chicago Landmark. The kitchen was designed in 1971 by Palm Springs-based interior designers William Raiser and Arthur Elrod and used for decades by Ebony Magazine food editors to test recipes that would appear in the popular publication. To ensure its preservation, Landmarks Illinois acquired the test kitchen in the spring of 2018 for $1, documented, dissembled and safely put it into storage following the sale of the building to a developer that planned to convert it into residential space. Landmarks Illinois sought proposals beginning in February 2019 from those interested in providing a future home where the test kitchen could be publically displayed for use or for educational purposes.

Earlier this year, Landmarks Illinois spoke to former Ebony Food Editors Charla Draper and Charlotte Lyons to hear their experiences working in the test kitchen, which featured bold colors and psychedelic patterns. Charlotte Lyons, who worked as a food editor at Ebony Magazine for 25 years, also serves as an advisor of the upcoming MOFAD exhibition.

“Ebony Magazine was always on the coffee table at my house growing up,” said Lyons. “In its pages, I saw a larger world. It was my great honor to be the food editor of that publication and to create 25 years’ worth of one-of-a-kind meals in a one-of-a-kind kitchen.”

To learn more about MOFAD and to donate to its fundraising campaign for the acquisition of the test kitchen and future exhibit, visit

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