In the stories of Jacqueline Woodson, cooking traces the roots and routes of families and memories. Join pre-eminent scholars Dr. Jessica Harris and Michael Twitty for a discussion faciltated by local chef and food writer Valerie Erwin. They will explore the food traditions that inspire contemporary African American cuisines.
Selected publications, including Harris’ My Soul Looks Back (2017) and Twitty’s The Cooking Gene (2017) will be available for sale.
ABOUT THE PANELISTS
Jessica B. Harris is one of a handful of African Americans who have achieved prominence in the culinary world. She holds a PhD from NYU, teaches English at Queens College, and lectures internationally. Her articles have appeared in Vogue, Food & Wine, Essence, and The New Yorker, among other publications; she has made numerous television and radio appearances and has been profiled in The New York Times. Considered one of the preeminent scholars of the food of the African Diaspora, Harris has been inducted into the James Beard Who's Who in Food and Beverage in America, received an honorary doctorate from Johnson & Wales University, holds awards from sources too numerous to note, and recently helped the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture to conceptualize its cafeteria. She is the author of 12 cookbooks on the food of the African Diaspora.
Michael W. Twitty is a culinary and cultural historian, Judaics teacher, and the creator of Afroculinaria, the first blog devoted to African American historic foodways and their legacy. Twitty has appeared on NPR’s The Splendid Table and Morning Edition and has written for the The Jewish Daily Forward, The Guardian, Ebony, Local Palate, and the Washington Post. Twitty is a Smith Fellow with the Southern Foodways Alliance and a TED fellow and speaker, as well as the recipient of Taste Talks' first Culinary Pioneer Award and Readers' Choice and Editors' Choice awards from Saveur for best food and culture blog. Twitty is also the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation's first Revolutionary in Residence. Twitty's first major book, The Cooking Gene was released in August 2017 by HarperCollins.
Valerie Erwin’s Geechee Girl Rice Café showcased the foodways of the Geechees during its twelve-year tenure in Philadelphia. Erwin now focuses her attention on writing and speaking about food, culture, and social justice in the hospitality industry and serves as General Manager at EAT Café, a nonprofit, pay-what-you-can café that nourishes, educates, and unites community in a welcoming environment.
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