Black-Owned Businesses Food Network Stars Love
Carla Hall, Eddie Jackson, Kardea Brown and more share restaurants, books, brands and influencers.
By T.K. Brady, Maggie Wong and Michelle Baricevic
To celebrate Black culture (whether it's Black History Month or any time of year), we asked Food Network stars to share their recommendations for Black-owned restaurants to patronize, brands to shop, books to read and Black chefs, restaurauters and influencers to follow. By supporting Black-owned businesses and food creators, you can help us all work toward a more equitable world — and eat some amazing food along the way. We hope you'll check these picks out.
This story was originally published in June 2021, and was updated with more recommendations in February 2022.
Eric Adjepong is a nutrition and public health professional, personal chef and caterer. Though he was born and raised in New York City, Eric draws inspiration from his Ghanaian-American heritage whenever he cooks, and is passionate about introducing people to the bold flavors of West African cuisine. He has worked in several Michelin-starred restaurants, and currently runs Pinch & Plate, a full-service dinner and event company, alongside his wife, decorator Janell Adjepong. Eric was also a finalist on season 16 of Bravo's cooking competition series, Top Chef. He currently hosts Alex vs. America on the Food Network, and can be seen competing on the newest season of Tournament of Champions beginning February 27.
Korsha is my co-author to Sankofa, my cookbook, but she’s on this list because Korsha is authentic, thorough and genuinely cares; all really important qualities that make a great journalist.
What hasn’t Tiffany done? She’s been able to maintain and grow her empire during the night of the pandemic with Roots Chicken Shack. Her food is delicious, always beautifully plated and approachable. She’s the sweetest person too!
If I need a recipe for anything sweet, baked or indulgent, I’m going straight to Vallery. Her cookbook, Life is What You Bake It, has gotten so much use during the holiday season, and still is with the turn of the new year. Vallery is a great storyteller as well.
I’ve had the opportunity to work with Martel when we both were at younger points in our career. Martel is now the executive chef of The Gathering Spot, a membership only club with buildings in Washington D.C. and Atlanta, Georgia. Martel is a brilliant cook, with a masterful hand at selecting and combining different spices.
Kalen Allen is a beloved YouTube personality, host, actor and content creator. He is best known for his YouTube Channel, where he has amassed over 923K subscribers. Kalen’s hilarious food-reaction videos continue to be a hit with fans, who include Oprah and Ellen DeGeneres among them. When he isn’t making new videos or other online content, Kalen can be found acting as a judge on the discovery+ competition series, Cakealikes.
Jeffery Smith is a self-taught culinary chef and traveling caterer, and truly has a deep appreciation and respect for the craft. I love his attention to detail and emphasis on presentation. He is also a good friend of mine, and the man can cook.
Brandon has mastered the art of culinary excellence in the modern age by showcasing his talents not only in the kitchen, but also online. He does not shy from letting the world see his talents on full display. Who doesn’t like to be entertained and fed at the same time?
I first became a fan of Danni after discovering, and reacting to, her online recipe videos, and her food is not only full of flavor, it is also full of her charismatic and charming personality. Also, her Juke Joint Collard Greens recipe are the best greens I’ve ever had.
Carla Hall is a best-selling cookbook author, chef and TV personality. She was born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee, and completed her culinary education at L’Academie de Cuisine in Maryland. Today she uses her soul food roots and French culinary training to add a twist to classic Southern dishes. Today you can catch her as a judge on Food Network’s Bakeaway Camp with Martha Stewart and Halloween Baking Championship. She also teaches several live and on-demand cooking classes on the Food Network Kitchen app.
Food historian Tonya Hopkins wears many hats. She’s the host for The Philadelphia Citizen’s Foodizen Podcast, cofounder of the James Hemings Society and creator of The Food Griot, a non-fiction storytelling platform that aims to uncover and illuminate lost histories of food and drink in The Americas, particularly those of disenfranchised Black and Brown Americans. As a “food history sleuth,” Hopkins contributes research and consultation to academic and consumer publications, discussion panels and has appeared on radio and television. She also helps to put together lavish, historic meals, as close to how they were prepared back then. With her help, diners, for instance, can get a taste of George Washington’s favorite soup.
With cleanly designed infographics and a soothing green aesthetic, Aaron Zeby shares tips on how to go plant-based. Get @plantbasedwanted on your feed for a steady stream of ways you can eat green.
By sharing recipes, organizing workshops, holding conferences, hosting cooking demos and more, the Afro-Vegan Society helps disempowered communities “take back control of their health and environments through vegan living.”
Eatblackowned.com makes it easy to locate Black-owned restaurants near you. The site’s directory includes over 2,000 restaurants and results can be filtered by radius and cuisine.
Personal chef Leeonney Bentick is the co-owner of Plated By Leshé, a business that whips up elevated vegan meals with a West Indian influence. The James Beard House-featured chef serves clients through private dinner parties, cooking demos, small catering and her supper club, The Caribbean Silver Palate, where she serves Caribbean food in fine-dining style.
Zoe Adjonyoh (@zoeadjonyoh)
Chef Zoe Adjonyoh is a self-proclaimed “doer” – and it certainly shows. She’s the founder of Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen, a business that hosts supper clubs, and caters corporate and wedding events with new West African cuisine. She’s also authored a cookbook with the same name. Carla says, “I love how she takes suya spice blend and makes a compound butter with it. And she makes okra salt with dehydrated okra.” When she’s not taking ultra-satisfying photos of her large batch meals, Zoe also hosts Sunday Crunch, an Instagram Live show that airs on For the Culture Magazine.
EatOkra is an app and website designed to help you find Black-owned restaurants wherever you are. Founded in 2016 by wife and husband, Janique and Anthony Edwards, EatOkra has since grown to include thousands of listings. Click here to learn more.
The Hungry Black Man is a “unique media company focused on sharing the amazingness of the Black and minority food and drink ecosystem.” The blog includes videos and articles that spotlight restaurants, organized by city, reviews, recipes and food news.
Jocelyn Delk Adams is the creator of Grandbaby Cakes, a colorful blog and cookbook that features her family’s cherished recipes with a modern twist. From an array of indulgent pound cakes to initiatives designed to feed our souls, Grandbaby Cakes is bound to bring some extra sweetness to your life.
Milagros Phillips hosts Race Healer TV, a show dedicated to showcasing the voices of people, who by their work and dedication, are “helping to heal the racial divide.” You can check out episodes here.
Follow New Yorker staff writer, Columbia University journalism professor, writer and correspondent of PBS 2016 documentary Policing the Police Jelani Cobb for an expert perspective on race, politics, history and culture.
Founded and edited by Victoria L. Valentine, Culture Type explores art “by and about people of African descent, primarily through the lens of books, magazines and catalogs.” The site features a mix of book and exhibition reviews, art and auction news and exclusive interviews with artists and players in the art world about the intersection of art and culture.
Eddie Jackson is a former NFL player, cookbook author, personal trainer and chef. He appeared as a competitor on the eleventh season of Food Network’s Food Network Star, which he won. He now serves as the host of Food Network’s Christmas Cookie Challenge, Eddie Jackson’s Game Day Playbook and Eddie Jackson’s Fitness Playbook on FoodNetwork.com. He’s also the instructor for a variety of “game day” themed live and on-demand cooking classes on the Food Network Kitchen app.
Herban Frequency, Houston TX
This Houston-based vegan food truck offers vegan twists on classic burgers and patty melts. They also sell an alkaline berry lemonade that's "A FrEQ favorite that'll have you ready to mix it with any & everything!" according to the site.
Masterpiece Desserts, Houston, TX
Masterpiece Desserts is all about the cheesecake, and is even considered the "world's best cheesecake" among those who love it. If you're in the Houston-area, follow their food truck to snag some mini cheesecakes.
Turkey Leg Hut, Houston, TX
Ever had a stuffed turkey leg? Owners Lynn and Nakia Price are originators of the dish — and started with no formal culinary training. They've served celebrities to many celebrity guests including Snoop Dogg and Kevin Hart — and Eddie, of course!
Stuff'd Wings, Houston, TX
For more stuffed meat, visit Stuff'd Wings in Houston. You can order wings stuffed with mac and cheese, chicken, pork, beef or seafood boudain ( a Cajun-style sausage) until they sell out.
Kardea Brown is a contemporary Southern chef who was born and raised in Charleston, SC. She is of Gullah Geechee descent and specializes in showing ordinary people how to make extraordinarily healthy meals while on a budget. Kardea got her start at Food Network as host of Cupcake Championship. She currently hosts Delicious Ms. Brown, where she takes generations worth of family recipes and makes them her very own.
If you're already ordering takeout or delivery after a long week of work, consider placing that order from a Black-owned restaurant today. Black Food Fridays is an initiative encouraging people to support Black-owned restaurants on Fridays through ordering takeout or delivery or gift cards. Founder KJ Kearney saw such a positive response, that he's now looking to turn this initiative into a nonprofit. Sign up for their mailing list to learn more.
These sweetgrass baskets are made by artisan Corey Alston and sold at the Charleston Market in the heart of town. You don't need to be a local to get one of these beautiful baskets. Send him a message on Facebook to place an order.
Germaine Jenkins, the founder of Fresh Future Farms, wanted a place for North Charleston locals to access fresh, healthy and culturally relevant food, so she went on to turn a vacant lot into "an urban oasis." That lot is now an urban farm, grocery store and event space serving the local North Charleston, SC community.
Gullah Geechee Tours is based in Charleston, SC and is geared toward teaching tourists about the Gullah Geechee culture of the city. The tour company says "Charleston 'preserves' the African-American culture and experience more than any other city in all of North America," and lead tour guide, Godfrey KHall is a vetted historian and a licensed certified tour guide in the city of Charleston.
Charleston and Atlanta-based hair and makeup artist, Shadows and Shears, does hair and makeup for Kardea and has been featured in major publications like Vogue, Southern Living and Garden and Gun magazine. If you're looking for a stylist for a wedding in the area, she's booking dates for 2021 now.
Alphonso Brown is an expert on Gullah culture and history. He leads Gullah Tours in Charleston as a licensed tour guide in the city. Brown is also the author of A Gullah to Guide Charleston and a lecturer on the Gullah language and Black History of Charleston.
Rodney Scott’s BBQ, Charleston, SC
Rodney Scott is a James Beard Award-winning chef known for whole-hog South Carolina-style barbecue. He opened the first Rodney Scott's BBQ location in Charleston and has since expanded to Birmingham, AL, with another location in Atlanta coming soon.
Dellz Cafe is a health-food haven with a menu covering everything from vegan nachos to pizza. If you're more of a carnivore, check out the "meat-friendly" section of the menu for entrees featuring mahi and shrimp. Dellz Cafe is currently open for curbside pickup and delivery.
Bertha’s Kitchen, Charleston, SC
A Charleston institution, Bertha's Kitchen has been in operation since the 80's. This family-owned business spans multiple generations and serves up some of Charleston's best soul food. In 2017, Bertha's Kitchen won an America's Classic James Beard Award, an award given to “beloved regional restaurants, distinguished by their timeless appeal.”
Gillies Seafood and Soul, Charleston, SC
Chef Sean Mendes's restaurant is inspired by his grandmother. "She is who he deems as the most important and influential person in his culinary journey," reads the website. With award-winning shrimp and grits, homemade desserts and plenty of classics, diners will feel right at home at Gillies.
My Three Sons, Charleston, SC
Charleston's My Three Sons specializes in soul food and Gullah cuisine and is known for its modern interpretations of the classics.
Marcus Samuelsson is a James Beard award winning chef, restaurateur, cookbook author and philanthropist. He is of Ethiopian and Swedish descent and draws from both cultures, as well as his love for New York City when he designs a dish. He has several restaurants throughout London, Sweden, Canada and the U.S., including Red Rooster and Ginny’s Supper Club in Harlem. He can be seen serving as a judge on several Food Network shows including Chopped and Chopped: All Stars.
Inspired by Locally-Owned, Locally-Operated (LoLos) seaside eateries in the British West Indies, Chef Raymond Mohan and Leticia “Skai” Young’s seafood shack is where “the Caribbean meets Cape Cod.” Come for bountiful spreads of mouthwatering, fresh seafood.
Melba’s Restaurant, New York, NY
Named after founder Melba Wilson, Melba’s has become a comfort food destination since its doors opened in 2005. Get all the soul food classics in this retro eatery.
Charles’ Country Pan Fried Chicken, New York, NY
Chef Charles Gabriel is the owner of Charles’ Country Pan Fried Chicken, a beloved New York restaurant that’s nothing fancy, but serves up some of the best fried chicken. Look for the orange awning with a chicken dressed up as a chef.
Harlem Haberdashery, New York, NY
Harlem Haberdashery that specializes in exclusive, custom-made clothing that draws inspiration from the distinct style of the Harlem Renaissance with a “future-forward edge.” The boutique has created looks for celebrities – from recording artists to sports stars – for over 20 years.
To top off any look, Harlem Haberdashery also sells a line of spirits – “bespoke” rum, gin and vodka – in bottles that look just as dapper as its clothing. You can shop them online here.
Sugar Hill Creamery, New York, NY
Sugar Hill Creamery serves handmade, small batch ice cream and non-dairy frozen desserts inspired by Caribbean and Midwestern cultures. With playful flavor names like “Pon de Replay,” a toasted coconut vegan ice cream inspired by Rihanna’s music, and “Don Cartagena,” made with the guava paste and cream cheese in popular breakfast pastry Guyaba y Queso, this family-owned ice cream is sure to put a smile on your face.
NiLu Gift Boutique carries carefully curated items ranging from luxury candles to embroidered totes.
Vinateria, New York, NY
Vinateria features fresh ingredients and Italian- and Spanish-influenced cooking. Dine here for an upscale, yet cozy, experience and gorgeous plates including fiery, house-cured sardines, golden and red beet salads, rosemary-marinated pork blade and more.
Sylvia's Restaurant, New York, NY
“The Queen of Soul Food,” Sylvia Woods, founded her restaurant in 1962. Since then, it’s become a community favorite. The restaurant has served famous clientele including Whoopi Goldberg, Nelson Mandela, Barack Obama, Al Sharpton and Magic Johnson.
Roger Mooking is an award-winning cookbook author, world-renowned chef, musician and television host. He was born in Trinidad and raised in Canada and uses his culturally rich background, his love of travel, and his interest in global flavors as influences in his cooking. He served as host of Cooking Channel’s Everyday Exotic and co-host of Food Network’s Heat Seekers with chef Aaron Sanchez. He currently acts as host of Cooking Channel’s Man Fire Food and Man's Greatest Food, and can be found judging several Food Network competition shows, including Guy’s Grocery Games and Chopped. (We recommend purchasing the following books from an independent and/or Black-owned bookstore.)
The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South by Michael W. Twitty
In his memoir, The Cooking Gene, Michael W. Twitty explores the complex history of Southern cuisine as it pertains to race and ownership. If you're looking for a deep understanding of this history of Southern cooking, Twitty's award-winning book is a must-read.
White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo and Michael Eric Dyson
If you're looking to have constructive conversations about race but don't know where to start, start here. White Fragility addresses the uncomfortable questions, anxieties and fears when it comes to talking about race.
Frederick Douglass: Autobiographies
You probably learned about Frederick Douglas in high school history, but it's time to take a deeper dive into this iconic figure. This volume includes all three of his must-read autobiographies.
Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin
A historical classic, this nonfiction work is considered essential reading by many. In the 1950's, journalist John Howard Griffin changes his skin color from white to black and records his experience moving through the segregated south, resulting in Black Like Me.
Revolutionary Suicide by Huey P. Newton
This iconic memoir by Huey P. Newton, founder of the Black Panther Party, gives readers a glimpse into the inner circle of the organization and Newton's personal experiences.
Sunny Anderson is a New York Times best-selling cookbook author, chef, television personality and former radio broadcaster and journalist. She is best known for her work hosting several Food Network shows, including Gotta Get It, Cooking for Real, How’d That Get On My Plate, and Homemade in America with Sunny Anderson. She currently co-hosts The Kitchen alongside Geoffrey Zakarian, Jeff Mauro and Katie Lee, and can be found teaching live and on-demand cooking classes on the Food Network Kitchen app.
Michele Foods is the first Black woman-owned syrup company in America. These syrups come in three flavors: Butter Pecan, Maple Creme and Honey Creme and are made for more than pancakes. Drizzle them on top of biscuits, chicken, ham and desserts like ice cream.
Mikey Likes It Ice Cream, New York, NY
Founder Michael "Mikey" Cole's ice creams are all inspired by pop culture. The New York City scoop shop sells flavors with names like Ice Ice Mikey, Pink Floyd and Mint Condition. You can get pints delivered in the Manhattan area and merch shipped nationwide.
Cuts and Slices, Brooklyn, NY
Brooklyn-based Cuts and Slices pizza shop serves up inspired slices to residents of New York City. With flavors like Chicken and French Toast, Chopped Cheese and Shrimp Scampi, every slice is an experience.
Coffee drinkers will love the smooth flavors of Blk & Bold coffee. Shipped and sold nationwide at Target and Whole Foods, it's time to make this your new go-to morning joe. Plus, when you buy a product from Blk & Bold, five percent of all profits go towards helping at-risk youth.
Your Pie, Cary, NC
The franchise owners of this Your Pie location in Cary, NC are committed to giving back to their community feeding first responders during the pandemic and celebrating local high school grads. Your Pie is a fast-casual pizza chain where customers can build their own pizzas, paninis and salads.