What would George Washington have eaten? Thanks to her starring role in the television series “Drive By History: Eats,” Melissa F. Clark ’05 knows the answer. This fall, the Blair alum secured the role of chef on PBS’s new series that dives into New Jersey’s culinary past, recreating recipes from renowned moments in Garden State history. In the first episode, Melissa and historian Dr. Libby O’Connell explore a meal designed to curry George Washington’s favor at The Hermitage in Ho-Ho-Kus, New Jersey. Using ingredients that would have been on hand during the summer of 1778 and employing the food trends popular during the period, Melissa dishes up a delectable fried breaded chicken with sorrel sauce and raspberry fool for dessert.
In subsequent episodes, Melissa prepares recipes from World War I that reflect the war effort to go meatless and wheatless, and she examines the culinary legacy of the Lenni-Lenape Tribal Nation in Parsippany, New Jersey.
Melissa says that she especially enjoys teasing out the flavors of fresh, local ingredients when she is preparing mouth-watering cuisine from past eras. “‘[Farm to table] happens to be what I was trained in. I’m very passionate about getting into those seasonal moments,’” she told the cameras in the first episode about George Washington.
Be sure to join Melissa for “Drive By History: Eats,” airing Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on PBS. Currently being filmed, the second season will debut in 2022.