Rufus Estes was an African-American chef living in Chicago who published his own cookbook in 1911 titled "Good Things to Eat, as Suggested by Rufus."
The book, "a collection of practical recipes for preparing meats, games, fowl, fish, puddings, pastries, etc.," gave Estes the opportunity to share many of the dishes he had created over years as a chef for the Pullman Palace Car Co. and, later, as chef of the subsidiary companies of U.S. Steel Corp. His book, which is prefaced with "hints to kitchen maids," is comprehensive, starting with asparagus soup and ending with strawberry syrup. In between, one can find a green melon sauté, marbled chicken (a cold dish served unmolded), Boston brown bread, turkey truffles and fresh raspberry pie. There's even a section of Lenten dishes.
"The recipes given in the following pages represent the labor of years," Estes wrote in his introduction. "Their worth has been demonstrated, not experimentally, but by actual tests, day by day and month by month, under dissimilar, and in many instances, not too favorable conditions."
Toni Tipton-Martin included Estes in her new book, "The Jemima Code: Two Centuries of African American Cookbooks." His recipes illustrate a sophisticated and intelligent style, she says.
Tipton-Martin notes that when the cookbook was published in 1911, the Chicago Defender described Estes as one of Chicago's best-known chefs, and an autographed copy of the book was auctioned for $11.
"One of the pleasures in life to the normal man is good eating," Estes wrote in his cookbook, "and if it be true that real happiness consists in making others happy, the author can at least feel a sense of gratification in the thought that his attempts to satisfy the cravings of the inner man have not been wholly unappreciated by the many that he has had the pleasure of serving — some of whom are now his staunchest friends."