The Family Table

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Before Jazz, Jake, Jurnee, and Jussie Smollett—the stars of some of the hottest television shows, including Empire, Friday Night Lights, and Underground—conquered Hollywood, they spent their childhood criss-crossing the USA.

Moving coast to coast thirteen times, they car-tripped to small towns and big cities across America. But no matter where they lived, two things remained constant in their lives: their weekly family feasts and the family’s communal kitchen table. Each time they arrived in a new home, their mother would transform a long piece of butcher block into a smooth varnished table in a beloved ritual that took three days. That hand-crafted table would become the heart of the Smollett clan, where they gathered for impassioned conversations on social and political issues and talked about the events of their day, from the mundane to the momentous.

The family table was the place where all of the Smollett siblings learned to talk succinctly and confidently, ensuring their voices and opinions would be heard. The family table was where life happened: where the most important and cherished events and accomplishments, no matter how large or small, were honored, and where holidays were celebrated: Christmas, Easter, Passover, Chanukah, birthdays, milestones.

The family table was also the place where they shared memorable meals over plates brimming with delicious food. A self-described multicultural-nomadic family, the Smolletts added their own unique twist to every recipe and event. A mix of Creole, Eastern European and Jewish hailing from New York and California, their cultural and regional heritage heavily influenced their culinary experiences.

In this warm and personal book, the Smolletts invite us all to take a seat at their butcher-block table, and enjoy the good times and good food that have shaped their lives. The Family Table includes 125 recipes that pay tribute to their past and present, to food traditions across the country, and to the global cuisine they’ve encountered in their travels. Sit down a spell at your own family table and commune with friends and loved ones over delicious dishes such as:

  • Fried Lobster Pasta alla Vodka
  • Spicy Stone Crab Dip
  • Roasted Garlic Lemon Pepper Wings
  • Loaded Turkey Burger Sliders
  • Crunchy Cheesy Meatball Hero
  • Cajun Shrimp Skewers
  • Smoked Mac & Cheese
  • Steak Bahn Mi Tacos
  • 7th Ward Seafood Gumbo
  • Buttermilk Biscuit Bites
  • Drunken Grilled Peaches
  • Mom’s Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
  • Blended Blueberry Lemonade

The Smolletts include tips for setting a simple and enticing table using greenery or seasonal fruit for centerpieces. Interspersed with the recipes are fascinating anecdotes and intimate stories from their lives that illuminate their traditions, their rich cultural influences, and their remarkable childhood spent discovering the country.