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Rufus Estes was born a slave in 1857 in Tennessee, and experienced first hand the turmoil of the Civil War. He began working in a Nashville restaurant at the age of 16, and in 1883 took up employment as a Pullman cook. In 1897, he was hired as principal chef for the private railway car of U.S. Steel magnates (the fin-de-siecle equivalent of today’s Lear Jets for corporate travel). There he served succulent fare for the rich and famous at the turn of the 20th century.
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