Last night I had the incredible opportunity to meet Bryant Terry, celebrity vegan chef and food activist, at my friend Takia McClendon’s bi-monthly Supper Club up in Chestnut Hill. If you haven’t heard of Takia, you’re missing out because she’s doing some incredible things up in the Germantown section of the city. Takia is owner of Uptown Soul Food and brings wholesome plant-based foods to an otherwise food-unstable community through a pop up restaurant and supper clubs. In addition to her public events, Takia offers meal planning, meal preparation, catering, cooking instruction, and personal chef services. Busy gal!
The evening started with big smiles from Kiera Smalls, owner of City Fit Girls and Takia’s partner-in-crime. After checking in with her, we got to feast on three different dishes from Bryant Terry’s newest cookbook Afro-Vegan. Takia really out did herself cooking all of the food. Everything was absolutely delicious and bursting with new and exciting flavors. I can easily see all three dishes becoming summertime staples. I shamelessly went for seconds and easily could have gone for a third serving. The recipes in Afro-Vegan all seem scrumptious from the stews, to the sides, to the cocktails (Yes! Cocktails!). I’ll keep you posted on them as I try them out!
[Left] verdent vegetable couscous with spicy mustard greens // [Center] cinnamon soaked wheat berry salad
[Right] all-green spring slaw.
Following the tasting, the crowd gathered around Bryant Terry for a brief discussion about himself, his book, and his beliefs. He was INCREDIBLE. Bryant spoke a lot about the history of African-American culture and it’s deep agrarian roots. He reminisced of days at his Grandmother’s home: how she would worklong, laborious hours her urban-Memphis garden, can preserves, and always, always sing in her kitchen. Bryant has seen this culture of closeness to food disappear and be replaced with food-insecure communities in urban and poor rural communities. As a result, these communities, often minority, have incredibly high occurrences of preventable dietary-linked diseases such as diabetes.
Bryant emphasized that proselytizing about veganism/vegetarians/conscious eating is the least effective way to get your point across. Rather, he discussed the power of pop culture to influence the masses, especially youth, to consider the effects the food they eat has on themselves, the environment, and of course the animals. Bryant stated that Beyonce and JayZ going vegan for a month at the end of 2013 was the best thing that ever happened to veganism and contributed more to the cause than he ever could. I loved an anecdote he shared about 50-Cent. Apparently Fiddy asked Bryant to be his personal chef because he only eats grass-fed beef, organic produce, etc. etc. Unfortunately, Bryant couldn’t take the position but he wondered “WHY HASN’T HE RAPPED ABOUT HIS ETHICAL FOOD CHOICES?!” Now that would truly be something else!
At one point, Bryant even broke it down rapping the 1992 jam Beef by Boogie Down Productions. According to Bryant, hip hop is just one of many examples of African Americans involved in the food justice movement. Bryant also mentioned the short Youtube video called the Meatrix featuring a cow hilariously named Moophius which discusses the factory farming system. The man practices what he preaches by pairing songs and short firms to each of the recipes in his cookbook. I can’t wait to try that aspect out!
Following his monologue of sorts, Bryant signed each of our cookbooks. He signed mine saying “Grow, Cook, Grub.” Now that’s a mantra I can live by! I seized the moment to take a picture with him… for the blog of course. The things I will do for you people.