Chef Tanya Holland may have left behind the hustle and bustle of the restaurant industry in 2021 with the closure of her Brown Sugar Kitchen in Oakland, whose superlative fried chicken and waffles prompted a never-ending line of diners eager to enjoy comforting soul food at its best.
Thankfully, though, her cooking and community championing continue on in her new cookbook, “California Soul” (Ten Speed Press), of which I received a review copy.
It was written with Maria C. Hunt, a California-based journalist who specializes in cultural stories about food, wine, and lifestyle; and Dr. Kelley Fanto Deetz, who holds a PhD in African diaspora studies and anthropology from the University of California at Berkeley.
It’s a cookbook not just of recipes, but of stories, that reflect the struggles and triumphs of African Americans who migrated from the South to California. Holland knows first-hand that journey, being the daughter of a mother who grew up in Louisiana, and a father who hails from Virginia. As a child, Holland spent many summers in both states, immersed in the gardening and cooking traditions of her grandparents.
Her great-aunts would make their way to Oregon and Southern California. Holland, herself, would move to the Bay Area in 2001, drawn to the fact, she writes, that “California offered an openness to ambition (female and Black) thought leaders and entrepreneurs that I hadn’t experienced on the East Coast.”Read more