Nina Compton is the Chef de Cuisine at Scarpetta in Miami Beach. She was runner-up on the most recent Top Chef series. Compton is a woman of colour who originally hails from St. Lucia. (Personally I think she should have won. Her food was consistently good and received rave reviews in the majority of the episodes.)
An inventory of celebrity chefs shows a decided lack of faces of colour. This week’s Meatless Monday, the Black History Month edition, focuses on Black chefs.
Some celebrity chefs:
Marcus Samuelsson – Ethiopian born and Swedish raised
Roger Mooking – Canadian chef; Trinidadian born and Canadian raised.
Sylvia Woods – the Queen of Soul Food
Rob Rainford – Canadian chef; Hosts the show Licence to Grill
But what of the vegan chefs of African ancestry? Like many Western institutions, there is not a lot of variety and colour to be seen the closer one gets to the ‘top’. This especially rings true of those in the vegetarian/vegan realm. However, there are chefs of this persuasion who are making their mark. Here’s a small sample:
Bryant Terry trained at the National Gourmet Institute of Health and Culinary Arts in New York City. He is an acclaimed chef, food advocate and author whose work has appeared in numerous publications. Terry also hosts a web series called Urban Organic and is vocal in promoting sustainability and access to healthy food for all.
books: Vegan Soul Kitchen; The Inspired Vegan; Grub; Afro-Vegan (April 8, 2014 is proposed publication date)
Taymer Mason is a microbiologist and food technologist with a diploma in Food and Nutrition. She is the author of Caribbean Vegan and grew up on the island of Barbados. Mason became vegan after a bad experience with meat.
I was fortunate to have attended a workshop with Mason at the annual Toronto Vegetarian Food Festival. She is engaging, knowledgeable and entertaining in her presentation of flavours of the Caribbean. The recipes in the book are easy to follow and always turn out well. I highly recommend trying the recipes for banana bread and lentil patties.
Honourable mention goes to:
Tracye Mcquirter who penned the book By Any Greens Necessary. Mcquirter, a public health nutrition expert, has been very active in promoting health in African-American women through a plant-based diet. Her vegan credits include “…directed the nation’s first federally funded vegan nutrition program and co-founded one of the first vegan web sites 15 years ago.” (Retrieved February 17th, 2014 from the About Page on the website By Any Greens Necessary: http://byanygreensnecessary.com/about/)