The Kitchen Sisters

The Kitchen Sisters (Davia Nelson & Nikki Silva) are producers of the duPont-Columbia Award-winning, NPR series, Hidden Kitchens, and two Peabody Award-winning NPR series, Lost & Found Sound and The Sonic Memorial Project. Hidden Kitchens, heard on Morning Edition, explores the world of secret, unexpected, below-the-radar cooking across America—how communities come together through food. The series inspired Hidden Kitchens: Stories, Recipes, and More from NPR's The Kitchen Sisters, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year that was also nominated for a James Beard Award for Best Writing on Food. The Hidden Kitchens audio book, narrated by Academy Award winner, Frances McDormand, received a 2006 Audie Award.

Hidden Kitchens Texas, an hour-long nationwide broadcast special, narrated by Willie Nelson & Robin Wright Penn, premieres in the summer of 2007.

The Kitchen Sisters' groundbreaking national radio collaborations, in partnership with Jay Allison, bring together independent producers, artists, writers, archivists, grandmothers, NASCAR drivers, butchers, public radio listeners, and many others throughout the country to create richly layered, highly produced radio documentaries that chronicle untold stories of American culture and traditions.

Other noted Kitchen Sisters stories include: "Waiting for Joe DiMaggio;" "The Nights of Edith Piaf;" "WHER: 1000 Beautiful Watts;" "Cigar Stories: El Lector, He Who Reads;" "Carmen Miranda: The Life and Times of the Brazilian Bombshell;" "Guillermo Cabrera Infante: Memories of an Invented City;" "Tupperware;" "The Road Ranger;" and "War and Separation." The Kitchen Sisters began their radio lives producing a weekly live radio program in the late 70’s on KUSP-FM in Santa Cruz, California. Their radio documentaries have been featured on NPR's All Things Considered and Morning Edition, the BBC, Audible, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Radio Smithsonian, California Public Radio, Pacifica Radio, Soundprint, PRX, and are now heard as NPR podcasts.

The Kitchen Sisters are also involved in educating and training new voices for public media in an imaginative, artistic and creative approach to storytelling. They teach at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and give presentations and provide training at universities, festivals, workshops, radio stations, public forums and events throughout the country. They also train and work with interns, college students, and youth radio apprentices and participate in the life of the public radio community throughout the country.

In addition to producing radio, Davia Nelson is also a casting director and screenwriter. She lives in San Francisco. Nikki Silva is also a museum curator and exhibit consultant. She lives with her family on a commune in Santa Cruz, California.

The Salt
3:28 am
Tue June 24, 2014

Tequila Nation: Mexico Reckons With Its Complicated Spirit

Blue agaves grow in a plantation for the production of tequila in Arandas, Jalisco state, Mexico, in December 2010. In the past 20 years, tequila has become fashionable all over the world, demonstrating that producers' international sales strategy has been a great success.
Hector Guerrero AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu June 26, 2014 5:54 pm

The Mexican town of Tequila in the western state of Jalisco is the heart of a region that produces the legendary spirit. Any bottle of tequila must be made from the Weber Blue species of agave, grown and distilled in this region.

Field after field of agave gives this land a blue hue, defining an economy and its traditions.

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The Salt
4:41 am
Tue June 17, 2014

In Yabbies And Cappuccino, A Culinary Lifeline For Aboriginal Youth

Australian celebrity chef and author Kylie Kwong (left) teaches a cooking workshop at Yaama Dhiyaan, a cooking and hospitality school for at-risk aborginal youth.
The Kitchen Sisters

Originally published on Tue June 17, 2014 5:48 pm

If you teach an aboriginal man (or woman) to make a cappuccino, can you feed his career for a lifetime?

That's the hope at Yaama Dhiyaan, a cooking and hospitality school for at-risk indigenous young people in Australia.

Students there are learning the skills to be cooks, restaurant and hotel workers, and caterers. The school is also helping to reconnect them to their culture, disrupted when many of their grandparents were kidnapped off the land, forced into missionary schools and denied the right to vote until the 1960s.

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The Salt
3:22 am
Tue May 27, 2014

How Soviet Kitchens Became Hotbeds Of Dissent And Culture

A typical Russian kitchen inside an apartment built during the early 1960s, when Nikita Khrushchev led the Soviet Union — what later became known as Khrushchev apartments.
Courtesy of The Kitchen Sisters

Originally published on Tue May 27, 2014 2:45 pm

When Nikita Khrushchev emerged as the leader of the Soviet Union after Stalin's death in 1953, one of the first things he addressed was the housing shortage and the need for more food. At the time, thousands of people were living in cramped communal apartments, sharing one kitchen and one bathroom with sometimes up to 20 other families.

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The Salt
3:30 am
Tue May 20, 2014

How Russia's Shared Kitchens Helped Shape Soviet Politics

Anna Matveevna came to this communal apartment in St. Petersburg in 1931, when she was 8 years old.
Courtesy of European University, St. Petersburg, Russia,Colgate University and Cornell University

Originally published on Fri May 23, 2014 6:44 pm

In the decades following the 1917 Russian Revolution, most people in Moscow lived in communal apartments; seven or more families crammed together where there had been one, sharing one kitchen and one bathroom. They were crowded; stove space and food were limited. Clotheslines were strewn across the kitchen, the laundry of one family dripping into the omelet of another.

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The Salt
3:02 am
Tue May 13, 2014

Turnspit Dogs: The Rise And Fall Of The Vernepator Cur

A turnspit dog at work in a wooden cooking wheel in an inn at Newcastle, Carmarthen, Wales, in 1869.
Ann Ronan Pictures/Print Collector/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri May 23, 2014 6:45 pm

In an old hunting lodge on the grounds of an ancient Norman castle in Abergavenny, Wales, a small, extinct dog peers out of a handmade wooden display case.

"Whiskey is the last surviving specimen of a turnspit dog, albeit stuffed," says Sally Davis, longtime custodian at the Abergavenny Museum.

The Canis vertigus, or turnspit, was an essential part of every large kitchen in Britain in the 16th century. The small cooking canine was bred to run in a wheel that turned a roasting spit in cavernous kitchen fireplaces.

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The Salt
3:27 am
Tue May 6, 2014

The Pizza Connection: Fighting The Mafia Through Food

Francesco Galante leads the Libera Terra, a cooperative of farmers and producers who create food and jobs outside of the Mafia's control.
The Kitchen Sisters

Originally published on Thu May 8, 2014 9:07 am

In recent years, the effort to bring the Mafia under control in Sicily has spilled over into the world of food. Today a movement of small organic agricultural cooperatives has sprung up across the island to farm land once confiscated by the Mafia and bring these goods to a global market.

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The Salt
4:06 pm
Mon August 13, 2012

From A British King To Rock 'N Roll: The Slippery History Of Eel Pie Island

F. Cooke's, one of the few remaining places to get eel pie in London.
Davia Nelson NPR

Originally published on Mon October 15, 2012 10:59 am

We were in London, searching for Hidden Kitchen stories, when we came upon an Eel Pie & Mash shop. It was full of old white marble tables, tile walls, pots of stewed and jellied eels, and piles of pies. These shops are now a dying breed, along with the eels they serve. Our search for the source of these vanishing eels led us to southwest London — to Eel Pie Island, a tiny slice of land with a flamboyant history that stretches from Henry the VIII to the Rolling Stones.

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