The best cookbooks are so much more than collections of recipes. They’re windows into a life or a place or a time or a way of thinking. The very best cookbooks are all of these things at once. Black Food: Stories, Art, and Recipes from Across the African Diaspora is one of these rare books. Edited by author-activist Bryant Terry, and published by his new imprint 4 Color Books, Black Food is the work of more than a hundred chefs, artists, and scholars who contributed recipes, artwork, and essays to a book that is as visually stunning as it is thought-provoking. Think Toni Morrison’s The Black Book (which served as a template for Black Food), but also think sweet potato leaves with eggplant and butter beans, and peach cobbler with nutmeg sauce.
In this episode of Book Dreams, Eve and Julie talk with Bryant about the making of Black Food, his childhood experiences on his grandfather’s urban farm, and his evolution from carnivorous high school athlete to vegan cookbook author. They also discuss the future of 4 Color Books and its mission to “push forward more diversity within the food system” by publishing visually arresting books by authors of color.
Bryant is the author of six cookbooks. He's also a James Beard and NAACP Image Award-winning chef, educator, and author, renowned for his activism to create a healthy, just, and sustainable food system. Bryant is the Founder and Editor in Chief of 4 Color Books, a new imprint of Penguin Random House and Ten Speed Press. Since 2015, he has been the Chef in Residence at the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco, where he creates public programming at the intersection of food, farming, health, activism, art, and culture. Bryant's most recent book, Black Food: Stories, Art, and Recipes from Across the African Diaspora, was the first book to be published by his new imprint and the most critically acclaimed American cookbook published in 2021. It landed on the Best Of lists of The New Yorker, Boston Globe, The Washington Post, NPR, Los Angeles Times, Glamour, and many other publications.
San Francisco Magazine included Bryant among the 11 Smartest People in the Bay Area Food Scene and Fast Company named him one of Nine People Who Are Changing the Future of Food. Bryant's mentor, Alice Waters, says, “Bryant Terry knows that good food should be an everyday right, and not a privilege.”
Black Food: Stories, Art, and Recipes from Across the African Diaspora
“It’s the kind of book that belongs both on your coffee table and in your regular kitchen rotation.”—Eater
“The book reveals the importance of food and community from diverse perspectives and encompasses Black cuisines from the Caribbean, the U.S., and across the African continent. And while cooking is central throughout, Black Food also sheds light on such issues as land access, spirituality, and the meaning of migratory patterns—chosen and unchosen.”—Wall Street Journal
The book, which brings together a chorus of voices across the Black American diaspora, shape-shifts from recipes to art to essays, and you’ll find something new every time you open the book to a different page. It’s almost hard to call it a cookbook, because you’ll be gaining more than a few recipes from it.”—Bon Appétit