Jeane Macintosh and Christina Carrega, New York Post, February 5, 2010
A special NBC Black History Month lunch spread–featuring fried chicken, collard greens and black-eyed peas–sparked a commissary controversy yesterday, but the African-American chef who planned it doesn’t understand the fuss.
“All I wanted to do was make a meal that everyone would enjoy–and that I eat myself,” NBC cook Leslie Calhoun told The Post last night.
Calhoun’s proudly planned feast, which she began last year, hit a snag when Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, the drummer for Jimmy Fallon’s “Late Night” show band, The Roots, shot a photo of the menu outside the network’s Rockefeller Center cafeteria and posted it on Twitter.
The menu quickly spread across the Internet and sparked a fury.
But Calhoun is confused.
“Questlove, who I serve every day and who enjoys my food, requested the neck bone [cooked in] the black-eyed peas and fried chicken, then got off the line, saying, ‘This is racist,'” she said.
“The next thing you know, people were taking pictures of the sign and asking all the other black people in the cafeteria if this was racist. They said that it wasn’t.”
But Kevin Goldman, NBC’s vice president of communications, tweeted: “The sign in the NBCU cafeteria has been removed. We apologize for anyone who was offended by it.”
A disappointed Calhoun, who has worked at NBC for eight years, said she’s been begging for years to make special entrees in honor of Black History Month, and got her wish last year. The plan was to have one special meal every Thursday during February–although she said she’s nervous about next week.