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NBC's Lost 'Soul'

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NYPost: 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."

Thompson, who has 1.2 million Twitter followers, clearly realized he'd started a food fight.

An hour after he circulated the menu, he tweeted, "i think i need a twitter break. i done started something. and now i must put out fire."

An NBC Universal spokeswoman didn't respond to a request for comment.

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.

Asked if she understood why some people might find her menu concept offensive, Calhoun said, "I don't understand it at all. It's what I eat."

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3 comments so far | Post a comment now
chris February 5, 2010, 7:39 AM

Not everything is racial! I wish people would stop all this nonsense. If an Italian chef made lunch for the crew of Jeresy Shore or the Sorpanos would it not consist of pasta and bread? I watched Oprah yesterday talking about diabetes and how wide spread it is in the black community and the doctor (who is black) confronted members of a black church and ALL the members talked about eating fried chicken, black eye peas and corn bread and how this food is so rooted in their history that it would be hard to stop eating it. There is nothing racial about serving people what they like to eat. Grow up people!

Sara February 5, 2010, 8:51 AM

Love how it was the white people who were offended when the blacks thought it was delicious.

It is traditional food for that culture so therefore it’s appropriate for black history month. Just as it’s appropriate to serve tacos for cinco de mayo and bratwurst for Oktoberfest.

Ten Tees January 8, 2011, 3:58 PM

Good article. Good to read. There is a thing to give about funny t-shirts.

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