The 1809 kitchen encompassed Jefferson's enthusiasm for French cuisine and was extremely modern for the time, featuring equipment only seen in a few kitchens outside of Europe. Here, enslaved chefs and workers prepared meals in this bustling environment. 

Audio Overview

Listen as Monticello guide Justin Bates describes the 1809 Kitchen.

Cooking in the 1809 Kitchen

Dr. Leni Sorensen demonstrates how to prepare different 19th century dishes using the features of this kitchen.

Bake Oven A bake oven next to the large hearth acted as a dedicated space for baking bread.
Fireplace Spit Jack Spit jacks were used to roast meat in historic kitchens and the mechanism for this version came from France.
Set Kettle Before hot water heaters, cooks could fill a large "set kettle" with water and keep it warm throughout the day for cooking or washing.
Cooking on the Stew Stove State-of-the-art in its day, enslaved chefs could control the temperature of each section of the stew stove to make delicate dishes.

Enslaved Chefs

Enslaved chefs Edith Fossett and Francis Hern first trained with French chefs Étienne Lemaire and Honoré Julien at the White House, learning the style and cuisine of Paris. Upon Jefferson's retirement, Fossett and Hern cooked in the newly-built 1809 Kitchen and prepared iconic meals that one visitor remarked where in a "half French, half Virginian" style.

Edith Fossett Fossett worked in the 1809 kitchen and likely lived with her family next door in the "Cook's Room."
Frances Gillette Hern Hern trained and prepared meals for twenty years as an enslaved chef at the White House and Monticello.

"Half Virginian, Half French"

At Monticello, food culture and dining were significant parts of daily life. Though Jefferson's desire for French style cooking and his gastronomical interests influenced how food was prepared at Monticello, it was enslaved African Americans creating the "rich" and "elegant" cuisine. Listen Now

Recorded Livestream with Culinary Historian, Dr. Leni Sorensen