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Michael W. Twitty Bio

Michael W. Twitty a food writer, independent scholar, culinary historian, and historical interpreter personally charged with preparing, preserving and promoting African American foodways and its parent traditions in Africa and her Diaspora and its legacy in the food culture of the American South. Twitty is a Judaic studies teacher from the Washington D.C. Metropolitan area and his interests include food culture, food history, Jewish cultural issues, African American history and cultural politics. Afroculinaria, Twitty’s food blog, highlights and addresses food’s critical role in the development and definition of African American civilization and the politics of consumption and cultural ownership that surround it.He’s appeared on “Bizarre Foods America with Andrew Zimmern,” “Many Rivers to Cross with Dr. Henry Louis Gates,” and has lectured to over 450 groups. He has served as a judge for the James Beard Awards and is a fellow with the Southern Foodways Alliance and TED and was the first Revolutionary in Residence at The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. Southern Living named Twitty, one of “Fifty People Changing the South” and the Root.com added him to their 100 most influential African Americans under 45. He also made the Jewish Forwards list of most influential American Jews. HarperCollins released Twitty’s book “The Cooking Gene,” in 2017, tracing his ancestry through food from Africa to America and from slavery to freedom, a finalist for The Kirkus Prize and The Art of Eating Prize and a third place winner of Barnes&Noble’s Discover New Writer’s Awards in Nonfiction. “The Cooking Gene” won the 2018 James Beard Award for best writing as well as book of the year, making him the first Black author so awarded. his piece on visiting Ghana in Bon Appetit was included in Best Food Writing in 2019 and was nominated for a 2019 James Beard Award.Twitty’s work is a braid of two distinct brands: the Antebellum Chef and Kosher/Soul. Antebellum Chef represents the vast number of unknown Black cooks across the Americas that were essential in the creation of the creole cuisines of Atlantic world. The reconstruction and revival of traditional African American foodways means seed keeping, growing heirlooms and heritage crops, raising heritage breeds and sustainably gathering and maintaining wild flora and fauna that our ancestors relied upon. The responsible exploration of the Southern food heritage demands that the cooks of colonial, federal era and antebellum kitchens and enslaved people’s cabins be honored for their unique role in giving the Southland her mother cuisine. It is important that we not only honor the Ancestors but provide a lifeline to contemporary communities and people of color looking for a better life in the new economy, a way out of the health and chronic illness crisis, and a way to reduce the vast food deserts that plague many of our communities. To honor the food past and provide for the food future is what Twitty calls, “culinary justice.”Kosher/Soul is the brand that deals with what Twitty has termed “identity cooking.” Identity cooking isn’t about fusion; rather its how we construct complex identities and then express them through how we eat. Very few people in the modern West eat one cuisine or live within one culinary construct. Being Kosher/Soul is about melding the histories, tastes, flavors, and Diasporic wisdom of being Black and being Jewish. Both cultures express many of their cultural and spiritual values through the plate and Kosher/Soul is about that ongoing journey.Contact a speaker booking agent to check availability on Michael W. Twitty and other top speakers and celebrities.

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