Shauna Anderson is an American Indian/African American restaurateur, author, historian, and business woman. Shauna's maternal grandmother, Virginia L. Battle was Native American. Shauna's work, preserving the history and tradition of chitlins, was inducted into the Smithsonian's Anacostia Museum and Center for African American History on April 22, 2003, as part of its collection of materials about African American celebrations and foods. Her autobiography Offal Great: Memoirs of The Chitlin Queen is in the Smithsonian Anacostia Library and the Maryland Historical Society Library. Shauna Anderson recently received the historical gift of a 300 year old cast iron chitlin cooker and washer used by the slaves.
The Chitlin Queen
Shauna had a successful accounting business at the time she decided to revive the chitlin business in the early 1990s. She knew that families were losing the tradition of cooking chitlins because high quality cleaned pork chitterlings were not readily available. As a seasoned business woman, Shauna was able to tackle the marketing, supply, distribution, and advertising single handedly to establish Shauna's Hand Cleaned Pork Chitterlings. She was soon selling them online across the country and now has served over a million meals to her customers. She was crowned "The Queen of Chitlins" by former Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. and the name has stuck. Saveur Magazine named Shauna "the" source for Chitlins in 2007.
A political food
Chitlins (or chitterlings) are the small intestines of a pig which are boiled or fried and in the US are historically regarded as southern cuisine, with African American ties to slavery. Anderson developed her own guidelines to cleaning chitlins when she discovered that Maryland Health Department and the U.S. Department of Agriculture had no regulations for the cleaning process. Chitlins are a food that Shauna refers to as "trash to treasure". What slaves were given was Offal - parts of the meat discarded by a butcher. Slaves turned chitlins and other Offal into something delectable (at least to the opinion of those who eat it) and it became a symbol of survival, pride, and family tradition. But chitlins have also become a strange racial reference for comedians and politicians and racists (though there isn't a single example given on this statement whatsoever). Shauna maintains that chitlins are just good food. Based on high demand from people in the area Shauna Anderson planned to open her third restaurant in 2006 but Prince Georges County, Maryland politicians did not think that a chitlin restaurant was fitting for their new development.
The restaurant that never was
Shauna invested in a run down house on Ager Road in Hyattsville, Maryland and turned it into a sunny, charming restaurant space, renovated to restaurant code on every detail. Then an army of Hyattsville City and Prince Georges County inspectors, excessive bills, tickets, vandalism, and harassment threatened to shut her down. Shauna persevered. While waiting for final approvals, the town officials made their intentions known.
A 2007 news article from The Hill states the chitlins store became a prop for ABC’s "stereotype of a poor, dangerous black neighborhood", Shapiro (a city official) is quoted as saying. Prince George’s County Executive Jack Johnson denounced the show in a statement: "When the president [in] the show gets out of a car and is in front of a restaurant that advertises chitlins and pork chops in today’s America, what any right-thinking American knows is we are harking back to an age-old inability of this country to celebrate the leadership and achievement of African-Americans and other diverse people in this country".
Shauna could not understand how a beloved food could become a lightning rod for city development politicking. Shauna fought as long as she could but after investing almost a half million dollars in her new venture, the city rezoned her property residential. Shauna sold her property at a residential price and lost her complete investment.
Her legal case was dismissed by Prince Georges County judge Sherri L Krauser and was investigated by Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski's office.
Shauna continues to sell chitlins online and directly to restaurants and churches.
She is a successful American Indian/African-American entrepreneur providing food products that the national soul and southern food communities have supported since 1995. She has given back to the community over the past three decades by employing and training workers to help them come off of public assistance and with youth mentoring programs and business seminars for women.
Shauna's work and story have been featured in Saveur Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Jet Magazine and featured on CNN.
The Queen of Chitlins, previously of Hyattsville, MD, is in the process of producing a documentary based on her short lived business experience on Ager Road and the depiction of her business as “demeaning to the community”. Shauna's business was the real life Chitlin restaurant depicted in the ABC "Commander in Chief" episode. Now that Jack B. Johnson has faced sentencing and is jailed for seven years, Shauna Anderson plans to tell the full story of how she was run off of Ager Road in Hyattsville. Shauna purchased a property and invested over $500,000 in her Chitlin Market which she planned to open in 2006. She received all government approvals. The Jack B. Johnson administration continuously harassed Miss Anderson with excessive zoning renovation requirements, ticketing of her Mobile Unit (while Taco Trucks sat unticketed), inflated water bills, and denials for public events. Shauna’s Chitlin Market was rezoned residential in 2006 causing her to sell the property at a huge loss and caused previous welfare recipients to lose their jobs. She is now requesting stories from other small businesses that were victimized by the Johnson administration. Shauna looks forward to the Hyattsville community succeeding with development plans and preventing the kind of political corruption that she was subjected to on Ager Road.
- Anderson, Shauna; Place, Elizabeth, Offal Great-A Memoir from the Queen of Chitlins, Hyattsville, MD 2006. ISBN 978-0-9792878-0-0
- "Buying Businesses with Equity", Black Enterprise Magazine, May 2005
- "FORAGING: Have Chitlins, Will Travel", The Washington Post, Feb 1, 2006; F.07
- Trescott, Jacqueline, "Guts Get Some Overdue Glory: Chitlin Merchant's Gift Feeds Museum's Plans", The Washington Post, Apr 23, 2003; C.01
- Mérida, Kevin, "Gut Instinct Chitlins online seemed like a good idea at the time. And it still does", The Washington Post, May 5, 2002; W.10
- "QUALITY COUNTS: And When We Count Our Year-End Blessings, These 15 Washington-Area Products and Purveyors Head the List", The Washington Post, December 21, 1997; M.01
- "ON THE FRIDGE", The Washington Post, November 1, 1995; E.03