Food, like other facets of life, has the potential to reflect the values of the wider culture around it and we are long overdue in recognizing Black culinary excellence on a bigger scale. The contributions of Black cooks, foodies, and chefs on the world of food spans centuries and continents, and the byproduct is a complexity of traditions, cuisines, and techniques that’s apparent in the 10 cookbooks below.
This list is just a starting point for some of the essential cookbooks by Black chefs and authors across the Black diaspora, and while it is by no means exhaustive, it serves as a reminder of the influence of Black cooking, now and always.
My Ackee Tree: A Chef's Memoir of Finding Home in the Kitchen
While Toronto Chef Suzanne Barr’s book My Ackee Tree isn’t out yet (it comes out April 5), you can preorder it now. The book is part memoir of Barr’s journey to becoming a chef at 30, stemming from a deeply personal experience of caring for her ailing mother. By 2017, Barr was the inaugural Chef-in-Residence at the Gladstone Hotel in Toronto, building a menu that centres on her connection to her familial roots and her Jamaican heritage. It also tells the story of a Black female cook who rose to be a culinary star in a world where such representation is still a significant work in progress.
30-Minute Low-Carb Dinners: 75 Easy-to-Prepare Meals That Are Healthy, Delicious and Fast
Valerie Azinge’s cookbook focuses on nutritious (and delicious!) low-carb dinners, making it a great addition to any kitchen shelf. Azinge shows you why you can cut the carbs without limiting flavour by making gratifying veggie substitutions such as cauliflower mash or zucchini noodles. Discover your next favourites, such as Azinge’s Zesty Mint Lettuce Lab Burger, Red Curry Turkey Meatballs with Thai Peanut Sauce and more. Like what you see? You can find new and original recipes from Valerie right here on foodnetwork.ca.
The Rise: Black Cooks and the Soul of American Food
Selected an Eater Best Cookbook of Fall 2020, chef and Food Network Canada’s host Marcus Samuelsson’s The Rise celebrates contemporary Black cooking with 150 standout recipes you’ll want to make again and again. Samuelsson links together culture, food and history to highlight the diversity (and deliciousness) of contemporary Black cooking. Learn from Samuelsson’s own journey or use it as inspiration for your next meal, the collection honours top chefs, writers, activists and more with recipes such as Chilled Corn and Tomato Soup in honour of chef Mashama Bailey and Crab Curry with Yams and Mustard Greens for Nyesha Arrington. This stunning work is a celebration of a movement.
Game-Day Eats: 100 Recipes for Homegating Like a Pro
Food Network Canada host Eddie Jackson knows a thing or two about game-day eats. As a former NFL cornerback for the Chicago Bears, he’s been on both sides of the table. While he’s familiar with the tradition of tailgating – where fans gather in the stadium parking lot to grill and eat with family and friends – Jackson prefers “homegating,” hosting a football party in his own home. Game-Day Eats marries his two passions and serves up 100 recipes that focus on feasting, drinking and bonding with friends. Enjoy mouthwatering Roasted Herb Wings, Chipotle Rib Nachos, Jalapeño Honey Chicken Biscuit Sliders and so much more. Can’t wait for the book to arrive? Try Eddie’s Gochujang Short Ribs right now.
Afro-Vegan: Farm-Fresh African, Caribbean, and Southern Flavors Remixed
While Bryant Terry newest release is Vegetable Kingdom: The Abundant World of Vegan Recipes, you’ll also want to acquaint yourself with Terry’s earlier book Afro-Vegan: Farm-Fresh African, Caribbean, and Southern Flavours Remixed. Terry is an Oakland activist, and the chef also reminds that veganism wouldn’t exist without contribution from the African continent and its diaspora. Remixing flavour-packed dishes that permeate African, Caribbean and southern cooking, Terry’s recipes will entice and satiate vegans, vegetarians and omnivores alike. Expect plant-based recipes such as Grit Cakes with Eggplant, Tomatoes, and Peanuts, Smashed Potatoes, Peas, and Corn with Chile-Garlic Oil, and a Caribbean-inspired Cocoa Spice Cake with Crystalized Ginger and Coconut-Chocolate Ganache. Terry also recently edited BLACK FOOD: Stories, Art, and Recipes from Across the African Diaspora, and you can see the Cocoa-Rubbed Fish with Fresh Oranges and Crunchy Benne Seeds recipe excerpted from that book here.
Jubilee: Recipes from Two Centuries of African American Cooking
Food historian, writer and Cook’s Country editor-in-chief Toni Tipton-Martin is known as a knowledge keeper of the Black food history cannon. In his work Jubilee, Tipton-Martin brings to light the important (but often overlooked) contributions by figures such as Samuel Fraunces, Freda DeKnight and Chef George Crum to America’s culinary landscape. Alongside this context, Tipton-Martin offers up recipes like Gumbo Z’herbes, Pork Chops with Rich Lemon Caper Sauce and Coconut Lemon Layer Cake.
Black Girl Baking: Wholesome Recipes Inspired by a Soulful Upbringing
You might have already come across Jerrelle Guy’s work. She is the photographer behind the award-winning Jubilee: Recipes from Two Centuries of African American Cooking. But the photographer is also a baker in her own right, and she’s put out her own cookbook, Black Girl Baking. Find variety with her recipes, from vegan to more traditional fare, such as Baked Buttermilk Beignets and Blueberry Drop Biscuits. Sharing insights on her unique background and her relationship with race in the United States, you’ll savour every turn of the page.
Pretty Gorgeous Cakes Paperback
Cynthia Stroud (of Great Chocolate Showdown) translates her self-taught, multi-award-winning baking expertise into this stunning work. Whether you are a novice or a pro, learn her simple steps and insider tricks (even how to use everyday objects) to achieve perfect results every time.
Tiki: Modern Tropical Cocktails
Breaking into a predominantly white sub-culture of hand-crafted cocktails, Shannon Mustipher is changing perceptions of what the average mixologist or bartender looks like. Brooklyn-based Mustipher will transport you to warmer climes with her liquid concoctions such as the white rum and honey infused Canchanchara, the pineapple-based Jungle Bird and more.