Conversations with Black Culinarians Shaping the Food & Beverage Industry

There are many people we can say that have shaped the modern-day hospitality industry. Still, as Tiffanie Barrier shares with each cocktail she makes, many, if not the majority, were Black men and women behind the scenes and at the forefront harvesting, preparing, cooking, and serving food and beverage.

It has been a privilege to chat with the 21 black men and women below who are shaping the industry today and for the future.

From Thomas Silvera, a father fighting and advocating for the safety of infants and children with severe food allergies and asthma in educational settings to Nina Curtis is a former bodybuilder turned vegan chef who is a leading figure in the plant-based culinary movement.

Ryan Mitchell works in BBQ with his father and started a food company that creates plant-based sauces and condiments that help reduce the impact of diabetes with low to no added sugar. Emily Brown started the Food Equality Initiative to end hunger in the food allergy and celiac disease community. She is now on a mission to provide everyone with affordable, inclusive access to the right foods and resources they need to improve their health through the Free From Market.

Keitra Bates helps marginalized food entrepreneurs in Atlanta through her food incubator Marddy’s to help promote culinary culture and economic inclusion. Victoria Zapata is cultivating conversations and connections to create recurring access points to healthy food options for those in communities experiencing food insecurity.

Gregory and Subrina Collier are a power couple in Charlotte, NC shaping the culinary industry and supporting people of color through their innovative dining events and small business advocacy.

Click their images below to listen to (or watch) my conversations with each of them. There is a lot to learn from each of them.​

Woman wearing a denim shirt holding her necklace with her right hand.

Experience the art of cocktail making with Tiffanie Barrier, aka “The Drinking Coach”. Sip on history-inspired drinks paying homage to Black women in hospitality.

Keitra Bates is empowering marginalized food entrepreneurs through Marddy’s, a licensed food incubator. Join her mission to promote culinary culture and economic inclusion.

Chef Jennifer Hill Booker is a trailblazing African American chef, cookbook author, and culinary educator who fuses Southern cuisine with French techniques. She believes “food should taste like food” and the importance of cooking and eating seasonally.

Emily Brown is a systems-change advocate and founder of Free From Market, providing affordable access to the right foods for improved health and wellness. She is also the former CEO of the Food Equality Initiative, a nonprofit committed to reducing food-related disparities.

Meet the unstoppable James Beard-nominated chef duo, Gregory and Subrina Collier, founders of Leah & Louise and the Bayhaven Food & Wine Festival. Learn how this power couple is shaping the culinary industry and supporting people of color through their innovative dining events and small business advocacy.

Former bodybuilder turned vegan chef Nina Curtis is a leading figure in the plant-based culinary movement with extensive experience as a chef and wellness trainer.

Valda Ford is a Registered Nurse and Public Health expert who works tirelessly to find answers to complex questions if it will enable some person or some group to have a better experience – especially one that enhances their quality of life or access to care.

Kathiana LeJeune is a global political management professional and author of “The Power of the Palate,” passionate about gastrodiplomacy and cultural unity.

Chef Lyles uses his knowledge, skillset, and love for feeding people to ensure that those who are providing food to others can feed a person a great, healthy meal on a very tight budget.

Ryan Mitchell is the business brain behind his father’s brand, “The Pitmaster” Ed Mitchell, which offers a line of BBQ products and recipes. The brand is committed to helping customers make healthy food choices and offers authentic, sugar-free, and vegan BBQ sauces. Ryan shares insights on the brand’s values, quality, and their love for barbecue.

Zoe Moore, an equity, diversity, and inclusion consultant in hospitality, events, and tourism, discusses the connection between diversity and event catering and advocates for supplier diversity and the economic empowerment of under-resourced professionals and companies in the industry.

Executive Chef Keith Norman of South Point Casino emphasizes the importance of attitude, commitment, and knowledge in providing safe meals for guests with allergies. He says safe dining involves the entire team from management to the front and back of the house.

Kristin Osborne, the founder of The Prioritized Group, supports families with food allergies and disabilities by helping them navigate and gain entitled accommodations in schools.

Karen Palmer is a coach and consultant, with over 20 years in media and experience in advocacy, social services and education. She has helped schools develop effective systems, and is a longtime advocate for the needs of food allergy families.

Keyatta Mincey Parker created a community garden for bartenders to de-stress, providing a healthy and safe space to recharge their creativity, minds, and themselves. The garden lets her grow as a creative person, plant new roots in the community, and connect with the land and her past.

Chef Matthew Raiford is a sixth-generation farmer, owner of Strong Roots Provisions restaurant, and author of Bress ‘n’ Nyam. He’s a CIA alum and James Beard semi-finalist. He owns and operates Gilliard Farms, a certified organic farm that has been in his family for six generations.

Chef Asata Reid is a chef and health educator. Founder of Life Chef LLC, she focuses on healthy cooking and nutrition. She’s also President of Feed the People Co., a nonprofit improving food access, affordability, and equity. She tailors health education for better outcomes for individuals and communities.

Chef-owner Keith Rhodes of Catch restaurant in Wilmington, NC, shares his ideology of cooking fresh, healthy, seasonal meals from local purveyors while giving back to the community, living sustainably, and managing diabetes.

Thomas Silvera, a food-allergic parent pursuing a health education degree, founded The Elijah-Alavi Foundation in memory of his son. He advocates for legislative change, leading to the passing of Elijah’s Law.

Victoria Zapata is a food equity advocate, passionate about creating recurring access to healthy food options for communities facing food insecurity. She believes that fresh food is a necessity, not a luxury, and that service to the community is nourishment to the soul.