“Biscuits and Business”

The Legacy of Lucille Smith and Southern Black Chefs


Lucille Smith BiscuitsIn celebration of Women’s History Month 2019, the Texas Institute for the Preservation of History and Culture presented, “Biscuits and Business: The Legacy of Lucille Smith and Southern Black Chefs.” The School of Architecture artist in residence Marlon Hall, and Assistant Professor of Practice, Ann Johnson collaborated with TIPHC Director Michael Hurd to co-curate an exhibition dedicated to the legacy of chef and entrepreneur Lucille Bishop Smith, who studied and later taught at Prairie View A&M and is noted as the first black businesswoman in Texas.

In 1937, Lucille Smith was invited to design a Domestic Service Training Program for professors and instructors at Prairie View. She went on to develop the first college-level Commercial Foods and Technology Department that was intelligently paired with an apprenticeship program. Smith was the first black woman to join the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce and for several years her chili biscuits were served on American Airline flights and were also served at the White House. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, President Lyndon Johnson and heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis were among her friends, fans, and customers.


                  Lucille Smith

The exhibition at Prairie View featured original artwork by Ann Johnson, and two documentary shorts by Marlon Hall. Assistant Professor of Art, Renee Smith produced the graphic designs. Johnson’s sculpture students created unique pieces for the exhibit, and School of Architecture Shop Supervisor Shannon Bryant assembled an extraordinary team of students that established the architectural foundation of the exhibition.

The “Biscuits and Business” Exhibit was on display March 28, 2019 to October 2, 2019 in the TIPHC art gallery, in the Nathelyne Kennedy Architecture Building.

The original Lucille Smith exhibition titled, “Reliquary,” was featured on CBS This Morning, and is on exhibit in the private dining room of Lucille’s restaurant at 5512 LaBranch in Houston. Smith’s great-grandson, chef Chris Williams, opened the restaurant in Lucille’s honor. (Click images to enlarge)