Culinary Historian • Creator of The Food (& Drink!) Griot Shows! (Podcasts & Video Shorts ) • Spirits Storyteller •Wine Whisperer • Drinks Designer
• Legacy Cook…
"Sharing Savory Stories...On The Makings of American Cuisine, Cocktails"...
Because Inclusive Stories Matter
Tonya founded The Food Griot LLC, a storytelling platform through which she produces nonfiction audio/podcast and video content (for broadcast and online) intended to offset the historical omissions and obscurity of key Black contributors to “The Makings of America's Cuisines, Cocktails…” Her role as griot (historian & nonfiction storyteller) also extends to the James Hemings Society, a nonprofit org she co-founded with Chef Ashbell Mcelveen to help lead the charge to remember, uphold and continue timeless Black culinary creativity that profoundly influenced American foodways. [see Tonya's full bio at: .http://thefoodgriot.tumblr.com/bio
Something's Always Simmering....
⬇️ See Tonya "The Food Griot" at Work in this "What Does a Food Historian Do?" video clip :
"Before Soul Food, Beyond the South, Bigger than Slavery... is how I summarize the scope of my food & drink history work" ~ Tonya Hopkins, a.k.a. @TheFoodGriot
Black agricultural and culinary skill, mastery and ingenuity in the U.S. (& throughout the Americas) historically comprise the crux of cuisine development and are a primary foundation of foodways for the New World. Yet this profound truth is not widely known nor well understood, and is thereby greatly under-appreciated, undervalued. It contributes to what I consider to be and call America's "Identity Crisis Cuisine" -- in both Black and White contexts...
I help to bring this key history to life as a culinary chronicler and nonfiction storyteller — with an end goal of placing historically accurate narratives back into the public discourse where they should’ve always been — to help fill the vast void of what’s not taught in classrooms at all levels nationwide, globally. Now more than ever, we all need to know the greatness that every group has brought (and still brings) to the nation's table, and ideally to be much more grateful for each other and those who came before us.
I love bringing hidden, rarely told stories to light and believe in an inclusive narrative of modern American food that acknowledges and appreciates the contributions of African American Ancestors....who all Americans are indebted to for bringing so much flavor (literally and figuratively) to this nation. Building upon the cultivating genius of indigenous peoples combined with the brilliance of enslaved Africans — captured, debased and constrictedly transported by early European enslaving settlers, to create this New World....
Inclusive food history can both influence and inspire everyone from the most decorated chefs to the everyday home cooks....
Food History is Valuable in Many Industries. Including Culinary Industries African (American) Ancestors were Instrumental in Creating...
I Provide a wide range of Creative & Culinary Services for Businesses & Orgs:
* for Individuals, Restaurants/Bars/Hotels, Schools (Culinary, Hospitality, History Programs, etc.): Comprehensive AA Culinary History Curriculum Development, Wine Education/Guided Tastings, Wine & Food Pairings/Menu Planning, Customized "Batch" Cocktail Creation (Historically-Informed & Cultural-Rooted); Griot-style Storytelling for Special Events.
* for Chefs, Cookbook Authors, Writers: Historically-Informed and Cultural-Rooted Context for Recipes/Sidebars in Cookbooks, Travel Memoirs, Food-Filled Novels and other Texts with Major Food/Drink Themes.
* for Historic Homes & Museums: Public Education Programs, Guided Tastings & Talks (Linked to Location’s Historic Significance) Utilizing Relevant Scholarship/Research, Food/Drink Product Curation, Panel Discussion Facilitation/ Culinary Conversations with Thought Leaders and Influencers.
* for Food & Drink Media, TV & Film: On-Air Appearances + Advise/Consult TV/Film/Radio/Broadcast Producers and Multi-Media Creators for Historic Accuracy in Culinary Content of the African American Diaspora (New World/The Americas)
James Hemings Society
2014 – Present
The James Hemings Society (JHS) is a nonprofit culinary arts and education organization inspired by its namesake who was the enslaved man who became America's first classically trained Chef de Cuisine, in France, at the behest of his owner, Thomas Jefferson. JHS is leading the charge to remember, uphold and continue black culinary contributions to the creation of iconic American cookery, brewing and distillation. JHS is dedicated to educating and informing the public on the profound and prolific impact of African American foodways nationwide and globally. We endeavor to reverse the historical omissions of the black chefs, cooks, caterers, farmers, brewmasters, distillers, etc. who were the foundation of professional cookery and fine dining throughout America. With chef Hemings life’s work and legacy as a portal, JHS honors an inclusive American culinary history and Jame's legacy in particular while also showcasing and supporting the brilliant work of today’s contemporary African American chefs/caterers/cooks, bartenders/brewers/distillers, food historians, writers, culinary curators, etc.
@TheFoodGriot’s “American Food History For ALL...from a Black Perspective!” PODCAST 🎙 is HERE! Click onto any underlined link below to listen to 🔊 👂🏽 the PILOT EPISODES & STAY TUNED for more inclusive truth in the makings to be served up midyear 2021...!
My PODCAST pilot launched in “America’s Birthplace” —Philadelphia PA, that "Famous City of FIRSTS" that's filled with so much food (& drink!) history you didn't even know that you didn't know ! In addition to taking you to the audio story, each link has EXTRA CONTENT too (recipes, videos, short articles & such)... ENJOY!
Episode 1: Ice Cream🍦!
Hear all about Ice Cream’s MISSING HISTORY in America! A short, semi-sweet story that blends back in the essential 18th - 19th Century Black Culinary Professionals previously all but ERASED from Publicly Known History!...
Episode 2: Pepperpot🥘!
This episode shares the savory story of Pepper Pot —best known as a favorite soup consumed (from a can ;) by millions of Americans throughout the 20th century. BUT it does not begin at Camden’s Campbell’s Soup Co. nor via a white male (German-immigrant) soldier in George Washington’s army (credited as its creator). Pepperpot originates in W. Africa, evolves in the Caribbean, and became Philly’s 1st official SIGNATURE DISH, made & sold in smoking hot servings by entrepreneurial BLACK WOMEN on Philly’s waterfront streets from the Colonial Era thru the eve of the 20th C. Make your own Pepper Pot using my personal recipe...
Episode 3: Kwanzaa’s Fascinating Food: History !❤️🖤💚
The last day of Kwanzaa is the FIRST day of the New Year and a fantastic way to start it off just right! Click this link to hear the fascinating story of the ancient food history & traditions behind the birth of this uniquely American holiday called “Kwanzaa” (Swahili for “First Fruits) created in 1966 by Activist Scholar Dr.Karenga. With special audio appearances from 2X James Beard Foundation award-winning author Michael W. Twitty AND The Kwanzaa Holiday Creator/Founder himself: Dr. Karenga❣️🖤💚
It also includes one of my ONLY cookie 🍪 recipes (I don’t really have a sweet tooth - more cook than baker;) that shows you how to make super simple — and naturally delicious — (customizable) Kwanzaa cookies! I also included my pepperpot 🌶 🥘 🥄 recipe —a near perfect hearty winter stew that’s spiced just right for the holiday season. 😋❄️⛄
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