Former Oprah Chef’s Pandemic Project is Thriving

Taryn Huebner’s Kismet Table transforms a former cookbook store into a spectacular show kitchen, private dining space and retail shop.

One of the biggest moments in Taryn Huebner’s life was when she had a chance to cook for Maya Angelou. The famed poet/activist/actress was going to be on Oprah Winfrey’s show, and Huebner, at the time, was the official chef for the show and talk show queen.

Part of Huebner’s job was to cook for high-profile guests of the show — from former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama to The Duchess of York Sarah Ferguson — but on this occasion her kitchen “blew up” before Angelou arrived.

“I waited for five years, and then she finally came, and I blew up the kitchen that day a little bit,” recalls Huebner during an episode of the LIVE! Culinary Series. “The fire trucks were coming and the oven caught on fire. The fire trucks were coming just as [Maya Angelou’s] tour bus pulled up.

“Ms. Winfrey felt so bad for me because she knew I was so excited to meet her and cook for her, so she brought me down to the stage and introduced me, which was super sweet.”

Huebner eventually got to cook for Angelou during her 10-year tenure at the show. She also had the incredible opportunity to contribute 25 original recipes in Oprah’s most recent cookbook, Food, Health and Happiness (Flatiron, 2017).

Her latest project, The Kismet Table, came about in 2020 when a space for a former cookbook shop in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood became available during the height of the pandemic. She saw it as a sign when the building’s owner gave it to her for next to nothing. She transformed it into a fabulous show kitchen, private dining space, and artisanal marketplace. 

During this episode, Huebner talks about all the great projects she’s working on at The Kismet Table, plus she reveals several invaluable tips on how to elevate your cookouts this summer. Renowned mixologist Lynn House complements with easy-to-make frozen cocktails you can make at home.

The LIVE! Culinary Series happens on Instagram every Friday at noon CT.