Buy Cookbooks From Black Chefs and Authors
Diversify your culinary library with cookbooks and reads from renowed Black chefs and authors.
I have a lot of little collections – plants, spices, colorful wigs – but one I’m most proud of is my cookbook collection. It started out small, with a few gifted from friends and others found secondhand, but as it started to grow and as I become more serious about my culinary journey, I wanted to be more intentional with the cookbooks I was cluttering every surface of our apartment with.
So, a few years ago, I made the call to start buying cookbooks exclusively from BIPOC authors. I love cooking and eating cuisine from all cultures, and the decision vastly improved my cookbook and recipe collection. As a Black amateur chef (hit me up, Chopped!), I've amassed quite a few cookbooks from renowned Black authors around the country.
For me, cracking open one of these books often feels like a warm hug, with many recipes calling back memories of childhood — the smell of my mother's turnip greens stewing away on Sunday mornings before I even woke up, or summer afternoons spent hovering over a bowl of watermelon cubes. Memories like these remind me why I love cooking in the first place.
So now I'm sharing some of my favorite cookbooks and food-centric reads from Black chefs and authors that I've read over and over, plus a few on my wishlist.
Like so many of us here in Atlanta, Todd Richards, owner of Lake & Oak BBQ, is a transplant; he grew up in Chicago before he and his family moved to Georgia in the '90s. Having worked in prestigious, high-end kitchens, his book SOUL showcases contemporary cooking techniques with classic Southern ingredients. Instead of being chaptered into courses, SOUL is broken up by ingredients — collards, berries, beans & rice — which personally I'm a big fan of. SOUL may just be my favorite cookbook I own — the recipes are interesting and beautifully photographed, Richards adds wine and food pairings for each recipe, plus the cookbook comes with a playlist.
Black Food reminds me of a modern-day church cookbook — it's filled with a collection of not just recipes, but essays, stories, poems, art and even a meditation practice from Black creators. Bryant Terry, James Beard and NAACP Image award-winning chef and author of several cookbooks including Afro-Vegan, serves as editor for the compilation.
James Beard award-winning chef Mashama Bailey and business partner John O. Morisano come together for an honest retelling of the trials and tribulations of coming together to open The Grey restaurant in Savannah, Ga. I had the pleasure of meeting (and accidentally photo bombing) Mashama Bailey at their book signing dinner event and am happy to report she is just as delightful as her food.
Watermelon and Red Birds is the latest release from James Beard Award-nominated food writer, master home cook, and producer Nicole A. Taylor, celebrating Juneteenth and generations of Black food culture. You can expect classics like red drinks, potato salad and BBQ recipes, or up the dessert table ante with a Moscato Pound Cake. In addition to the recipes and their page-turning essays, Taylor also includes a list of resources for BIPOC-owned hot sauces, jams, spice, and waffle mix companies.
Mother-daughter duo Alice Randall and Caroline Randall Williams explore the history of soul food and offer up healthy versions of the often calorie-laden recipes to build healthy communities. Alice Randall, acclaimed author of The Wind Done Gone, is a food activist and teaches at Vanderbilt University; in addition to her many laurels, she also studied for credit alongside Julia Child at Harvard. Caroline Randall Williams is a Harvard scholar, author and award-winning poet; in addition to Soul Food Love, Alice and Caroline also co-authored the young adult novel The Diary of B.B. Bright. Caroline also stars in Hungry for Answers, executive produced by Viola Davis and JuVee Productions and now streaming on discovery+, where she travels the country uncovering the fascinating, essential and often untold Black stories behind some of America’s classic and emblematic food and spirits.
To know peace is to hear Kenneth Temple say, “oh yea, let’s eat, baby” while scrolling through Instagram, where you can find the Food Network Chopped champion stirring up tasty creations for his followers. The New Orleans private chef (having a list of celebrity clients including Lil Wayne) started learning to cook as a young adult and the recipes in Southern Creole: Recipes From My New Orleans Kitchen are inspired by family recipes.