Special to The Dallas Examiner
Lucille Elizabeth Bishop Smith, an entrepreneur, inventor, educator and chef, was known as possibly the first female African American business owner. She was also the first African American woman to join the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce.
Born in Crockett, Texas, on Sept. 5, 1892, she attended Wiley College, Prairie View A&M and Colorado State College before attending and graduating Samuel Huston College – now Huston-Tillotson University.
In 1912, she married Ulysses Samuel Smith, a renowned chef known as the “Barbecue King of the Southwest.” The couple had three children.
She worked as a seamstress and a private cook for many years. In 1927, she was hired by the Fort Worth Public School District as a teacher coordinator in the vocational education program for Black students. However, she was still catering dinners. One catering job led her to cater for Camp Waldemar, an exclusive summer camp for girls.
In 1937, she was recruited to create a domestic service training program at PVA&M for professors and instructors. During that time, she formed the first collegiate Commercial Foods and Technology Department that incorporated an apprentice-training program; she also created five service training manuals.
In 1941, she wrote Lucille’s Treasure Chest of Fine Foods, card file box style cookbook. During the 1940s, she invented Lucille’s All Purpose Hot Roll Mix to support her church’s fundraising efforts. She raised $800 in profits. With orders continuing to come in, her recipe eventually became the first hot roll mix marketed in grocery stores in the United States. By 1948, she was selling over 200 cases each week. Her recipe paved the way for premixed powder-based recipes used today.
In 1974, she founded Lucille B. Smith’s Fine Foods Inc. – a family-owned business for which she was also the president. The American Airlines served her chili biscuits for many years. They were also served at the White House – first lady Eleanor Roosevelt and President Lyndon Johnson were frequent customers. She also baked fruit cake for service members from Tarrant County during the Vietnam War. She received many awards and accolades for her service to the country and contributions to the culinary industry.
Source: Texas Handbook Online