Edna Stewart, 2008, by Amy Evans Streeter
"I've enjoyed it. I've had a blast. I have had a blast because I have met people from all over the world." -Edna Stewart, 2008
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Edna Stewart of Edna's Restaurant in Chicago passed away last week after a long battle with ovarian cancer. The SFA collected Edna's story as part of its Chicago Eats project, an effort to capture the stories of Southerners who left the region during the Great Migration, taking family recipes with them.
Edna was born in the Windy City, but her parents were from Covington, Tennessee. They moved to Chicago in 1936. Edna learned to cook from her mother, who taught her how to make collard greens, hoecakes, and fried chicken. In 1966 Edna went into business with her father and then husband to open her namesake restaurant. She has been Chicago's Queen of Soul Food ever since.
Go here to read our oral history interview with Edna Stewart to learn her thoughts on soul food and hear stories from the Civil Rights Movement, when Edna's was a meeting place for activists and icons.
We don't know the future of Edna's Restaurant now that Edna is gone, but we certainly hope the place--and her recipes--will live on.
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UPDATE: We've received word that Edna's daughter plans to keep Edna's Restaurant open.