Food & Drink

15 Talented Black Chefs & Foodies To Follow

by Emerald Lavender

These foodies and chefs have three things in common: they’re amazingly talented, they have a unique approach to food, and they have gorgeous melanin. From Nicole Taylor’s inventive Cherokee Rose Poundcake, to Murielle Banackissa’s flavorful Beet and Berry Ginger Smoothie Bowl, each food connoisseur shares a piece of themselves through their recipes. Whether they were lawyers or worked on Wall Street in their former lives, somehow food has brought them together.

Although the culinary world may not display the diversity that exists within it, we’re shining a light on these gifted cooks who hold the power to create lasting memories by transforming simple ingredients. When we reflect on some of our fondest memories, great food is often the bridge that connects us. These 15 Talented Black Chefs and Foodies have masterfully infused their experiences into recipes we all can enjoy! —Emerald


Robyn Andrea Burgess is the owner of Runaway Apricot, a website that features recipes made with local and seasonal produce. At the tender age of 15, Robyn was working at one of Washington D.C.'s top restaurants. Her undergraduate studies in Anthropology piqued her interest all the more, prompting her to explore where food and culture intersect. Check out her Whiskey Cream Puffs with Cinnamon Apple Caramel recipe that's equal parts decadent and delicate.
Georgia native Nicole Taylor successfully merges northern and southern cuisine in her cookbook, The Up South: Chasing Dixie In A Brooklyn Kitchen. Nicole combines her rich southern roots with city-market savvy to create recipes that are unexpected but welcome. Her Cherokee Rose Poundcake couples a traditional southern poundcake with the gentle and fragrant notes of the Cherokee Rose.
Dora Charles' Christmas Morning Cinnamon Rolls are created from a recipe that was passed down from her Aunt Laura over 60 years ago. You can make these rolls any time of the year, and they're guaranteed to be fluffy with just the right balance of cinnamon and sugar. She learned to cook from her grandmother, who taught her to use her eyes and instincts to adjust recipes. Dora's cookbook, A Real Southern Cook, In Her Savannah Kitchen, gathers all her southern comfort favorites in one place.
Cheryl Day is co-owner of the Back In The Day Bakery along with her husband, Griffith. In 2002, they opened their quaint shop in sunny Savannah, GA. Cheryl loves the process of kneading dough from scratch and making the crimps with her fingers. Cheryl's Chocolate Chess Pie is made with cocoa powder, vanilla and a dash of nutmeg to spice up this classic recipe.
Jocelyn Delk Adams' cookbook, Grandbaby Cakes, is filled with intimate stories about her family and how cooking has created lasting memories between them. Her Sweet Potato Poundcake combines sweet potatoes into a fluffy, moist and decadent poundcake. Jocelyn doesn't believe in skimping on the sugar, butter or cream, and I'm going to have to agree with her!
Mashama Bailey is the head chef of The Grey, a restaurant nestled in downtown Savannah, GA. Its design successfully fastens itself to the old and new, merging historic details with sleek, modern charm. Her Chow Chow recipe is a tasty mix of pickled vegetables that can be enjoyed all by itself, or you can try it on top of your favorite chicken, beef or pork entrees.
Erika Council is the owner of Southern Soufflé, a cooking website with deep roots in her southern upbringing. She hosts a monthly supper club called South x Saints, where she whips up traditional favorites with an unorthodox twist. You have to try her Strawberry Lemon Cream Shortcakes recipe! A sweet strawberry compote is cradled in a fluffy, scratch-made shortcake. It's the perfect balance of savory and sweet.
Tanya Holland is the owner of Brown Sugar Kitchen, a lively restaurant in West Oakland, CA. She has been featured in O Magazine, The Wall Street Journal and Savoy because of her great-tasting food. Her cookbook, New Soul Cooking: Updating a Cuisine Rich in Flavor and Tradition, explores healthy soul recipes inspired by the Caribbean, Africa, Brazil and the American South. Her Fried Chicken has earned the reputation as the best in the Bay Area.
Kari and Lij Heron are the award-winning husband and wife duo behind the successful blog, Chef and Steward. Lij is the head chef at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel and Kari is a former broadcast journalist turned food photographer. As Jamaican expats living in the United Arab Emirates, they deliver a wide variety of recipes, full of spice and flavor. Their Jamaican Jerk Turkey recipe is one that you won't want to wait until Thanksgiving to try!
Adrian Miller is not your average cook. He's a former attorney turned food writer and certified barbecue judge living in Denver, CO. His cookbook, Soul Food: The Surprising Story of an American Cuisine delves into history to explore the roots of some of America's favorite soul food dishes. Also, check out his Catfish Curry recipe that's sure to have you coming back for more!
The inspiration for Pietisserie started one day when Jaynelle St. Jean decided to give pie slices out of the window to neighborhood passersby. The restaurant's tagline, "Random Acts of Sweetness," is the catalyst behind the successful Bay Area business. Jaynelle's Chestnut Cream Pie takes an often overlooked ingredient and transforms it into a creamy and indulgent pie.
Bryant Terry is a chef, educator and author. His cookbook, "Vegan Soul Kitchen," omits heavy salt, refined sugar and the "bad fats," associated with soul food cooking. Instead he enlists fresh, whole and healthy ingredients that still deliver bold and inventive flavors. His Pan Fried Grit Cakes with Crispy Leeks, Garlic and Thyme is a refreshing take on an old-time favorite. Bryant has been featured in O: The Oprah Magazine, Food and Wine and can also be seen in the PBS documentary, "Soul Food Junkies."
Murielle Banackissa is a foodie and philanthropist. Her recipes are always made with fresh and nutrient-dense ingredients to nourish the body and entice the palette. Her Beet & Berry Ginger Smoothie Bowl adds a yummy homemade granola to the mix, embracing both sweetness and texture. Murielle is also the owner of Wakami Canada, an online boutique that empowers artisans in rural Guatemala to generate income for their community and families.
Aaron Hutcherson left a successful career on Wall Street to pursue his culinary dreams. On his popular blog, The Hungry Hutch, he shares delicious recipes that take him back to his childhood. His Turkey Stuffed Zucchini Boat recipe utilizes one of my favorite vegetables as the vehicle for a delicious turkey and cheese filling.
You may recognize Chef Tiffany Derry from her appearances on shows such as Top Chef, Bar Rescue or Bobby's Dinner Table, to name few. At the age of 17, Tiffany made history by gaining a manager position at her local IHOP. From there, she went on to the Art Institute of Houston. After graduating, she worked in various esteemed kitchens and evolved into the chef you see today. Her Korean Short Ribs Marinade will satisfy your Asian food craving with authentic Far East flavor!

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  • The caption is sometimes too long for the space and there doesn’t seem to be a way to scroll down. I’ve noticed it before on other posts in the past. ?

      • Lizabeth

        We tested this on all our computers and couldn’t replicate this error.

        Could you tell me which browser (and version) and what computer (or phone) you’re getting this over-run caption error on? We’ll try to troubleshoot for you.


  • Great post! I’m a big fan of Mr. Terry’s and thank you for giving me more people to read about! I’m drooling!

  • Great post! could we please have a list of 15 Talented White Chefs & Foodies To Follow?

    • Keisha

      I think most lists compiled on the internet are already too focused on white people and their perspective. We have always made sure our main roundups/lists are inclusive (no one is ever only discussed in relation to their race, sexuality, religion, etc.), but we wanted to do an extra focus on Foodies/Chefs of color today in light of the recent “World’s Best” voting, where we noticed that very few chefs of color were getting the attention and recognition they deserved.


  • Bryant Terry’s been one of my favorites for a long while, and Brown Sugar in Oakland is incredible! I love this list, and I love the above reasons for creating it. Thanks always to Grace and her team for curating content that is broad, deep, and beautifully inclusive!

  • I see many familiar faces :) Such a talented group. Our culinary community is so rich in flavour! But our perspectives are often left out of the mainstream conversation.

    That’s part of the reason why I started the site, http://www.blackfoodie.co :) If you’re interested in learning about some more Black Foodies check it out.