“Randall’s expertise in Southern cuisine is held in such high esteem that he was honored and featured in the Culture Expressions Gallery of the newly opened Smithsonian Institute of National Museum of African-American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., along with chefs Edna Lewis, Patrick Clark, Leah Chase and Hercules, George Washington’s enslaved cook.”
~ African Americans Chefs Hall of Fame
Born on July 23, 1946 in McKeesport, Pennsylvania, Joseph Randall has been inspired by Southern food all his life. Reared in Harrisburg, he enjoyed this unique fare that was prepared by his mother, who hailed from Virginia. Also, his uncle, Richard Ross, was a caterer and restaurateur in Pittsburgh and owned Ross’ restaurant in Large, Pennsylvania. It was with his “Uncle Dick” where a teenage “Joe”, as he was called, worked as a busboy and dishwasher.
After graduating from William Penn High School in Harrisburg, a seventeen-year old Randall enlisted for service in the United States Air Force. It was during his time stationed at Turner Field in Albany, Georgia where he personally acquired his great appreciation for Southern fare. His duties included cooking in flight line kitchens. However, his enlistment was terminated early when his father, Dr. Joseph A. Randall, passed away. Having served almost two years, he received a hardship discharge and returned home to assist his mother in Pennsylvania.