NBC Cafeteria Chef Defends Black History Month Menu

By Mariel Clark on February 5, 2010 10:30am | Updated on February 5, 2010 10:29am

This photo of a NBC cafeteria's Black History Month menu was posted on Twitter, sparking controversy and cries of racism.
This photo of a NBC cafeteria's Black History Month menu was posted on Twitter, sparking controversy and cries of racism.
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Twitpic/questlove

By Mariel S. Clark

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

MANHATTAN — NBC served up a mountain of controversy Thursday after a cafeteria menu offered  fried chicken, collard greens, black-eyed peas and cornbread in honor of Black History Month.

But the African-American chef who planned the menu said she had been trying to cook the menu for years in honor of the month and doesn't understand why everyone was so upset.

"All I wanted to do was make a meal that everyone would enjoy, and that I eat myself," chef Leslie Calhoun told the New York Post.

The fallout over the menu was prompted by a Tweet from Ahmir Thompson, aka ‘Questlove,’ the drummer for Jimmy Fallon’s house band the Roots. He posted a picture of the menu on Twitter next to the words, “Hmm HR?”

The picture sparked a flurry of anger and claims the menu was racist, which led to NBC nixing the cafeteria special.

"The sign in the NBCU cafeteria has been removed. We apologize for anyone who was offended by it,” tweeted NBC vice president of communications Kevin Goldman.

But that didn't stop comedian Wanda Sykes from the bashing the menu on NBC’s The Jay Leno Show.

“That’s how [NBC] celebrates. Oh, no, no, ya’ll don’t need to know about Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass. Here’s some fried chicken,” Sykes said on the show.

It was unclear, however, if Questlove regretted igniting all the fuss.

"i think i need a twitter break. i done started something. and now i must put out fire," Questlove tweeted after the menu was pulled down.

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