>  Chefs contributions in the modern Soul Food

Modern Soul Food

What’s the first thing that comes on your mind when you heard about “Soul Food”? Maybe, slavery? Cuisine from the southeastern United States? African culture? Yeah, it’s a set of all this. The terminology Soul was an expression used by African American slaves to distinguish themselves, as a symbol of brotherhood. From this word comes soul music, soul sister, soul brother, and of course, soul food.


Bob Jeffries said in his book “Soul Food Cookbook,” that “While all Soul food is Southern food, not all Southern food is Soul.” It’s common to confuse Soul Food and Southern Food, but the big difference between the two is that Soul Food comes from the slave mentality of the southern United States, and Southern Food comes from black culture.


The traditional characteristic of Soul Food is to be an abundant dish made up of beans, greens, cornmeal, and pork. Being the pork, the main ingredient of which they use absolutely everything. Today, soul food is more than that. More and more chefs of this genre have contributed to reinventing it while maintaining its essence. What was once a type of food made by African Americans for African Americans in the southeastern USA, today we can see it expanded throughout the world and not as an expression of famine and poverty as it originally was, but with a homemade commercial connotation.


Who are those chefs who have contributed to modern soul food? Let’s meet three of them.


Tanya Holland



Tanya Holland is a professional Soul Food chef, cookbook author, television host, and the chef who put Oakland on the culinary map. Through her Brown Sugar Kitchen restaurant and her cookbooks, she shows an inventive and modern way of Soul Food, without forgetting that traditional touch that characterizes it.


The characteristics of her restaurant are the dishes are prepared with organic, seasonal, and locally grown ingredients, in which we will find a unique representation of the Tanya Holland style. Brown Sugar Kitchen has a classic soul food menu with dishes like Buttermilk Fried Chicken, Cornmeal Waffles with fried chicken, Creole Meatloaf, Buttermilk Biscuits, Macaroni & Cheese, with Tanya Holland’s twist. That twist and modern way in her preparations are the mix of French techniques and all the gastronomic culture that she learned in her travels.


In addition to showing the modern soul food, another characteristic of Tanya’s cuisine is comfort classic. For her, it’s important that people feel comfortable with what they consume, which is why she says that the nature of comfort food is people want.


Jason Fullilove



Jason Fullilove is a chef from Cleveland, Ohio, who elevates traditional African American soul food with a modern touch.


In his Barbara Jean restaurant with the motto “Elevated food for the soul,” he proposes a wrap in a mixture of the cultures of the countries that make up America, with a focus on African-American cuisine, based on meats, grains, fermentation, and offal.


For Fullilove, the quality of its products is the main thing, since he uses natural ingredients. He says that he is influenced by his environment. He works with the freshest, locally available, seasonal ingredients and regularly changes menus based on availability and inspiration. ”


Deborah Van Trece



Soul food chef Deborah Van Trece defines her concept of soul food more than being from the south. She says that her soul food is about the soul that is put into the food, no matter where in the world you come from, and that it’s an expression of love for ingredients and diners.


On her travels, she had the opportunity to cook and learn from local chefs, which helped her define her Soul Food style.


Her Twisted Soul restaurant was the place where she expanded her culinary concept, creating something different and new. She updated simple soul food and basics local dishes, making them more special through her research on ingredients, techniques, and the features of spices and herbs.


I think that with the quality contributions that these and other Soul Food chefs are making to its innovation, Soul Food will undoubtedly continue to transcend the world.


Created by Yareli Parra for COOK CONCERN

Hi! I'm Yareli, Dominican travel and food writer living in the beautiful and welcoming Tuscany region of Italy. I am passionate about tourism and travel, so I always look for new places to learn about its stories, culture and, above all, its gastronomy.