Staff Picks: Celebrating Black Chefs
Wed, 02/01/2023 - 11:35am by emjane
A culinary road-trip to Oakland to eat at the Brown Sugar Kitchen, to New York to dine at Marcus Samuelsson’s Red Rooster Harlem, and to the island of Edisto to knock on Emily Meggett’s side door and get some Gullah Geechee home cooking sounds amazing! If a cross-country trip isn’t in the cards for you, we’ve got great cookbooks to bring a bit of these chef’s kitchens into your own!
The Rise: Black Cooks and the Soul of American Food by Marcus Samuelsson | Request Now
More than a collection of recipes, The Rise highlights the role food—Black food specifically—plays in social justice. Broken into collections of recipes created in honor of Black chefs, activists, and authors (among others), The Rise places biographies and thought-provoking histories alongside sharply photographed food and recipes all the more meaningful because of the context. From the simpler hoecakes to the more complex Ayib and Sweet Potato Ravioli with Berbere Brown Butter, The Rise could keep you cooking for days. I think I’ll start by making Leftover Wine Spiced Chocolate Cake with Mulled Wine Raspberries (doesn’t that sound decadent?!)
Gullah Geechee Home Cooking : Recipes from the Matriarch of Edisto Island by Emily Meggett | Request Now
You’re not alone if you haven’t heard of Edisto Island – until this book was published in 2022, I was ignorant of the small island off the coast of South Carolina. Author and chef Emily Meggett tells of her life growing up and cooking in the Gullah Geechee community in a long-intro leading into her many recipes. Yes, in addition to being a great cook, Meggett can write, too! A few of Meggett’s recipes are shared at the end of this NPR story, but given that she was 89 and not widely known when this book was published, most of her recipes aren’t as readily found online as other chefs’. Guess you’ll just have to get and read the fabulous book to find a few more!
Brown Sugar Kitchen: New-Style, Down-Home Recipes from Sweet West Oakland by Tanya Holland | Request Now
Even if you’re not a cook, this book is worth devouring just for its gorgeous food photography and immersive writing by chef Tanya Holland (oh, and its forward by Michael Chabon…yes, that Michael Chabon)! But you’d be remiss if you didn’t try some of the recipes. The Smoked Pork Hash sounds delectable and I think I’ll make the Roasted Green Beans with Sesame-Seed Dressing tonight! Even though I don’t have a trip planned to Oakland, I couldn’t help but attempt to peep Brown Sugar Kitchen’s current menu – I was heartbroken to discover that they permanently closed last year! I’ll just have to do my best at making the Cornmeal Waffles with Apple Cider Syrup myself!
Black Girl Baking: Wholesome Recipes Inspired by a Soulful Upbringing by Jerrelle Guy | Request Now
A good meal isn’t complete without dessert, right? Luckily, Guy has us covered with a wide assortment of sweets (and some savory offerings too) in Black Girl Baking. This cookbook doesn’t just have your typical offerings, instead Gay puts forth lots of twists on more familiar flavors with dishes like her Strawberry Balsamic Shortcake, Cocoa Gingerbread Cookies, and Kombucha Muffins. Guy also offers many tweaks to her recipes to turn the bakes vegan or gluten-free, making it easy to find a treat for everyone, including those with dietary restrictions. A short section on Baking Basics at the back of the book also provides great context and tips so that even novice bakers can find success! What am I going to try first from this book? Probably the Peanut Butter and Jelly Bread!