Women Chefs and the Resurgence of Appalachian Cuisine

Written by Nick Ragusa, Senior Honors student at Western Carolina University.

The following is an abstract of a longer research paper written for Robert Ferguson’s History class. If you would like more information please email him at rhferguson@email.wcu.edu.

The culture of Appalachia is immensely unique in its form, especially from any other recognizable culture. This uniqueness that exemplifies Appalachian culture is largely due to how the Appalachian culture was formed. Through the combination of many cultures from around the globe coming together and sharing ideas, traditions, and lifestyles, they formed what is now the multiethnic culture of Appalachia. Along with these traditions came a rich culture of food introduced into Appalachia, which was formed not only from this collection of multiple cultures blending together, but from what the local region could provide to the people living in Appalachia, and dating to Native American agricultural and culinary practices in the region. With time and the influx of modern culture and social changes, several notable female chefs have taken charge in powering the resurgence of interest in Appalachian cuisine. Chefs like Ashleigh Shanti, Katie Button, Shelley Cooper, and Rosetta Baun, to name a few, have been feeding the culinary interests of all who seek to engage in Appalachian culture through food. Using intricate dishes and ingredients, these female chefs have captivated an audience who cannot get enough of the foodie experience that they have to offer, and they truly live for it. These chefs seek to spread interest in Appalachia to all who show curiosity in it through the best way they know how; through their food.

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