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H3irloom Food Group Teaches Respect for Black Food Culture – Food Tank

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H3irloom Food Group, a culinary organization in Baltimore, Maryland, brings awareness to Black culture’s contribution to food by bringing education into catering, pop-ups, and other dining experiences. Executive Chefs David and Tonya Thomas highlight the stories behind the dishes and teach you about the history and sustainability that shape the meals they create.

“Maryland has an incredibly rich history…in food and agriculture, we want to acknowledge that,” David told Food Tank. They say a holistic mindset is behind their advocacy for regenerative and organic farming. They buy the highest quality ingredients from farmers and their practices give back to the land. “Because it’s the right thing to do.”

David and Tonya H3irloom Food Group You can educate not only your customers, but also the vendors you buy from and your own employees. “They need to know why we source the way we do and why certain things are only acceptable to us,” says David. adds Tonya.

H3irloom Food Group takes procurement very seriously, but their commitment to education goes even deeper. At the heart of their mission is “improving the story of the Black Hood,” and that requires looking back. Growing knowledge is “only part of who we are,” Tonya tells her Food Tank. “It’s part of our history and culture.”

The origins of African American influence on the US food system lie in the Atlantic slave trade. But David points out that that popular teaching is often distorted. It is far from the truth, in fact they sought us out in different parts and regions of Africa based on our skill sets,” he explains. These skill sets included expertise in rice farming, fishing, and other specialties related to food.

“You brought us here, and then we enlightened you. And that’s what I want people to understand. Yes, we were victims.” , we will make something beautiful out of it and continue to tell its story.”

The story includes African-American contributions to cooking that helped define American cuisine. “Ask one of these young chefs who Leah Chase is…Ask any young chef who Edna Lewis is…you’ll run into someone you know.” Let’s go to the cooking scene.”But who are the majority of them?”

Tonya and David teach young staff at H3irloom Food Group about the people who paved their way in the industry. They emphasize the importance of educating the next generation about the great chefs of the black community. including chefs older than Lewis and Chase, such as James Hemings, an American chef from

“It is important to understand how long we have been involved in the culinary field at all levels and the contribution we have made to the culinary world of this country,” says Tonya.

For David and Tonya, their connection to food began at home. “For me, it’s about family. I mean, I don’t know if it’s more than that. You know, as African Americans, it’s all about what we’ve really been through. We want to pass it on to the next generation.” I never really had money, land or possessions that I had to inherit,” says David. “What they were passing on was stories, recipes, things of that nature. These things are very important to the African-American psyche.

These gifts came together as expressions of love in the kitchen from both David and Tonya, especially the women in the family. “We stand on the shoulders of aunts and mothers,” says David.

Tonya called it “I was in the kitchen and was told how to make this and the story behind it. And a story about your family, your past.”

David and Tonya recreate this connection for others through the stories and dishes they tell at H3irloom Food Group. David says: That’s all. And that’s why it’s important to us. “

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Photo credit: Francesco Gallarotti, Unsplash