The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (State Parks) has announced that noted culinary historian, interpreter and editor Lavada Nahon has joined the Bureau of Historic Sites staff as the Interpreter of African American History.
Nahon has worked as an independent contractor at a variety of state historic sites and other museums. She has experience interpreting the lives of free and enslaved African Americans across the mid-Atlantic region, with an emphasis on the work of enslaved cooks in the homes of the elite class. Her expertise around cooking and dining spans the 17-19th centuries and cuts across cultures, encompassing Dutch, British, French and African traditions.
In an announcement sent to the press State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, “Lavada’s immense experience will be instrumental to our agency’s goal of developing interpretative programs and displays that continue to educate and connect visitors to the past while highlighting untold stories across all ethnic and social backgrounds.”
Over the past two decades Nahon has worked with a variety of historic sites, societies and museums. She has cooked on a variety of historic hearths many of which are no longer in use, developed educational programs, after-school programs, lectures and tours, period presentations and historic dinners for sites ranging from the New York Historical Society, Albany Institute of Art and History, Dyckman Farm House Museum, Johnson Hall, Fraunces Tavern Museum and many more.
She has also worked as a museum associate and educator for Historic Hudson Valley for 12 years at Van Cortlandt Manor and Philipsburg Manor Upper Mills, and as a production coordinator for their special events team. Currently she is on the reinterpretation team for Dey Mansion in Wayne, NJ, the home of the Passaic County Historical Society. And is also working with several other historic sites to give presence to the Africans once enslaved on their properties.
“My love of history came from my love of reading,” Nahon said in the press announcement. “My initial pleasure in reading stories and novels made me curious about the times and places in which the stories were set. The library gave me not only the stories but all sorts of books to answer any questions I had about any particular people, time, or place—including cookbooks, which I would read like any other book, although I didn’t cook from them very often, a habit I still have.”
Lavada Nahon is expected to be engaged in State Parks’ efforts at the state historic sites, delivering programs and research.