A seasonal dinner

Hemings & Hercules

Hemings & Hercules is an extension of our Fuss & Feathers dinners from Chef de Cuisine Martin Draluck where we explore American food history, using relevant techniques, and seasonal ingredients. Through researching for Fuss & Feathers we came across the stories of the first two celebrity chefs in our country who also happened to be the enslaved property of two of our first presidents, Hercules Caesar and James Hemings. With few lasting recorded menus or recipes from either man, these dinners are inspired by the potential works of them and countless others who worked in southern plantation kitchens.



7pm // Thursdays Throughout August — sold out

Each dinner will take place in the Private Dining Room at Hatchet Hall starting at 7pm.
Guests are encouraged to arrive early.

First Africans brought to Virginia
— 1619
Hercules Ceaser believed to be born
— 1753
James Hemings is born, son of enslaved “Betty” Hemings, and her enslaver John Wayles.
— 1765
George Washington purchased Hercules
— 1767
Thomas Jefferson marries Martha Wayles, daughter of John Wayles; inheriting a dowry of slaves including Martha’s half-siblings James and Sally Hemings.
— 1772
James works numerous jobs under then Virginia Governor Thomas Jefferson, including house servant and messenger
— 1779
Hemings accompanies newly appointed Commerce Minister, Jefferson to France, and begin culinary training.
— 1784
Hemings apprenticed under the cook for Prince de Conde, on a country estate called Chantilly
— 1787
Hemings becomes CDC of Hotel de Langeac, America’s first royal embassy, being paid a wage of 24 Livres (pounds) a week, comparable to free white servants at the time.
— 1787
George Washington elected 1st United States President.
— 1789
On June 20th Hemings cooked dinner for Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison, unifying the three disgruntled statesmen and solidifying the Capital’s place along the Potomac, as well as figuring out how to finance the Revolutionary War debt.
— 1790
Jefferson retires as secretary of state and negotiates a deal with Hemings for his freedom if he teaches others at Monticello how to cook in his French - Virginian style.
— 1793
Every 6 months, Hercules is moved back to Mount Vernon, VA from then Capital, to avoid falling under the 1780 Gradual Abolition Act, freeing any slave in Pennsylvania staying longer than 6 months, and then subsequently returning to his kitchen job after a few weeks.
— 1796
After completing his obligations, Hemings was freed and immediately departs for Philadelphia.
— 1796
Hercules escapes to freedom on February 22, George Washington’s birthday, never to return and rarely heard of again.
— 1797
Hemings returns to Monticello for just 45 days before departing again.
— 1801
On November 5th Jeffferson receives word that Hemings has passed away in Baltimore. And the last known siting of Hercules walking around New York, by mayor Colonel Richard Varick.
— 1801
Thomas Jefferson elected 3rd President of the United States and first sitting president in the new White House along the Potomac.
— 1801
Edith Fossett, enslaved Monticello cook, travels to the White House to teach Jefferson’s new white chef, Hemings’ Virginian-French fusion, and from there it spreads worldwide do to wealthy households eager
— 1801
January 1st, Emancipation Proclamation
— 1863