Zella Palmer, is an author, professor, filmmaker, curator, scholar and the Chair and Director of the Dillard University Ray Charles Program in African-American Material Culture in New Orleans, Louisiana. Palmer is committed to documenting and preserving the legacy African American, Creole, Indigenous and LatinX culinary history. As the Chair of the Dillard University Ray Charles Program, Palmer filmed and produced the Story of New Orleans Creole Cooking: The Black Hand in the Pot documentary. In 2020, under Palmer’s leadership, Dillard University launched a Food Studies Minor, 1 of 2 accredited academic Food Studies programs at a (HBCU) Historically Black College & University.
Palmer’s latest publications, Recipes and Remembrances of Fair Dillard: 1869-2019 (University of Louisiana at Lafayette Press) and Ed Mitchell’s Barbeque (Harper Collins, June 2023) shares some of her rich research. Palmer was a guest or keynote speaker for NYU, Nicholls State University, Maryville University, University of Gastronomic Sciences (Turin, Italy) Essence Festival and for the 2022 American Community Gardening Association Conference.
Palmer’s research and articles appeared in the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities 64 Parishes, Essence and For the Culture magazines. Palmer received the 2018 ‘Cultural Bearer Award’ from the Mardi Gras Indian Hall of Fame, 2020 New Orleans Magazine ‘People To Watch’ and 2022 Dine Diaspora Black Women in Food ‘Trailblazer’ Honoree. Palmer hosts Culture & Flavor podcast on Heritage Radio Network and is the founder/owner of the Nellie Murray Feast.