10 African-American Chefs You Need to Know About

In the USA, there are approximately 941,000 individuals employed as chefs. How many of these chefs can you name off the top of your head? You may have heard of famous figures like Gordon Ramsay, Jamie Oliver and Wolfgang Puck. However, can you name any celebrity African-American chefs? 

Even though every one out of five chefs in The United States is African-American, according to the Bureau of Labor, Black cooks are socially isolated, discriminated against, and have a lack of representation in the media. While the Black Lives Matter movement continues to be a pressing topic in our current times, efforts are being made to bring attention to black narratives, specifically in the culinary world.

Despite facing many hurdles, African-American chefs have beaten the odds and created a platform for others, as well as continued to break racial barriers. In a time where representation is important for our society and the younger generation, take a moment to support such individuals by learning more about their background, passion, and get a taste of their cooking. 

Here are ten African American chefs who have made great names for themselves in the culinary world.

Carla Hall, Washington, D.C.

african american chefs
Top Chef Carla Hall works at Smithsonian National Museum for African American History

Born in Nashville, Tennessee, Carla Hall spent much of her career fighting for visibility in the culinary industry. She landed appearances on Top Chef, The Chew, Good Morning America and many more. She has authored three cookbooks centered around soul food, and one of them has received an NAACP Image Awards nomination.

Order Carla Hall’s award-winning cookbook

Hall believes food connects everyone and strives to communicate through her work and cooking. Hall is the Culinary Ambassador for Sweet Home Cafe at the Smithsonian National Museum for African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. There, she works to promote and connect the experience of the museum through the history of the food.

Leah Chase, Louisiana 

african american chefs
Chase had customers ranging from past presidents to freedom riders

Leah Chase is the nation’s preeminent Creole chef who brought New Orleans Creole cooking to international attention. After high school, she took a job at a French Quarter restaurant where it sparked a deep love of food in her. Alongside other numerous rewards, Chase was inducted into the James Beard Foundation in 2010. She received awards from the NAACP, National Council of Negro Women and Southern Foodway Alliance.

The late 96-year-old was the chief chef at her restaurant, Dooky Chase’s. It once was a hotspot for civil rights organizers to plan their course of action in the 1950s. Several famous figures, like Barack Obama and James Baldwin, have dined at Dooky Chase’s. If you’re craving classic, Creole cuisine, be sure to visit!

Todd Richards, Georgia

african american chefs
Todd Richards is a Georgia icon

The two-time James Beard Award semifinalist is a fixture of the culinary scene in Atlanta. Todd Richards worked at several fine-dining restaurants including The Four Seasons Hotel and the Ritz-Carlton Buckhead before opening his own – Richards’ Southern Fried in 2016. Here, guests can have a taste of unique spin on casual southern dishes like fried chicken tenders, mac and cheese, black eyed peas, and chicken and waffle wings.

Just recently, Richards released his first cookbook – Soul: A Chef’s Culinary Evolution, which includes roughly 150 recipes. Each page highlights the versatility of humble ingredients like onions, corn and tomatoes. It also aids in transforming them into delicious one-of-a-kind meals. Check out his cookbook below.

Order Richard’s cookbook filled with 150 recipes

Marisa Baggett, Tennessee

african american chefs
Baggett says expensive equipment or exotic ingredients aren’t necessary for good sushi

Marisa Baggett is the first female African-American to graduate from the California Sushi Academy. With her mission to share the art of making sushi, she has authored two cookbooks – Sushi Secrets and Vegetarian Sushi Secrets.

For three years, she worked at Do Sushi Bar and Lounge in Memphis, where she showcased her delicate skill in sashimi, nigiri-zushi, makimono and kaiseki. Though Baggett has since stepped down from her role, she is now focusing on sharing the art of sushi as a traveling itamae (Japanese chef) by teaching classes at markets, private homes and at events.

Get this kit to make your own sushi at home

Erick Williams, Illinois

african american chefs
Chef Erick Williams wan named one of “16 Black Chefs Changing Food in America” by The New York Times

Erick Williams was influenced by his great-grandmother’s Southern cooking and her insistence on connecting with anyone who sat at her table. He learned that sharing a meal is a universal expression of respect and dignity. The Chicago native is currently nominated for a James Beard Award for best chef in the Great Lakes region. 

Williams is the chef/owner of Virtue restaurant in Chicago. Since its opening in 2018, the restaurant has won Best New Restaurants in America for its twist on classic Southern American food. He also currently works on his personal goal of racial inclusivity and training young people of color in the industry.

Mariya Russell, Illinois 

african american chefs
Mariya Russell is the first African-American female to receive a Michelin Star

This Ohio native chef found her passion for cooking at the young age of 14. Since then, Mariya Russell’s love for food led her to receive a Michelin Star in 2019. That made her the first African-American woman to do so. Russell’s unique style of cooking is omakase, which flirts with Japanese methodology and fully controls a person’s dining experience. Anyone can immerse themselves in this experience at the previous restaurant she worked at, Kumiko and Kikko, where she served elegant seven-course meals.

Since winning a Micheline Star and stepping down from her sous chef position at Kumiko and Kikko, Russell has plans to use her platform to mentor other aspiring Black chefs. Be sure to follow her at @mariyaleniserussel on Instagram.

Rodney Scott, South Carolina

Rodney Scott specializes in whole-hog barbecuing in the Eastern Carolina tradition

Not many people can say that they have cooked a whole hog at the age of 11, but Rodney Scott sure can! Since his first hog, he has become one of the most famed pit-masters in the country. Scott has made appearances on TV-shows such as Parts Unknown, Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern, and at countless food festivals.

In 2017, Scott turned his craft into a full-fledged restaurant called Rodney Scott’s Whole Hog BBQ, with locations in Charleston, Birmingham and (opening soon) Atlanta. Here, you can literally order a whole pig, or if you want something lighter, pit-cooked chicken and spare ribs. 

Dolester Miles, Alabama

african american chefs
Dolester Miles was named Most Outstanding Pastry Chef in America at the James Beard Awards

This world-class pastry chef engaged in her craft for over 30 years before winning her first James Beard Award. It’s safe to say that Dolester Miles is not only one of the greatest pastry talents in the South, but also in the United States. If you have one chance to try her baking, order the Coconut Pecan Cake, which is a nutty and tropical. However, Miles is versatile in her experience and can create any dessert from classic southern pound cake to traditional French dacquoise.

Mile’s inspiration for creating pastries stems from her mother, who taught her how to bake. When in Birmingham, Alabama, stop by the Highlands Bar and Grill to try her pastries.

A stand mixer is a must have for at home baking

BJ Dennis, South Carolina

BJ Dennis specializes in authentic Gullah-Geechee cooking

Many consider BJ Dennis the country’s leading ambassador of Gullah-Geechee cooking, which is a grain-based, hearty cuisine that is usually paired with seafood. To keep the African-Gullah culture alive, Dennis travels across the nation and cooks at pop-ups and events. He has also made appearances on Top Chef and Parts Unknown to educate viewers on the history and culinary techniques of the low country’s cuisine.

To learn more about Gullah-Geechee cuisine and to keep up with Dennis’ next pop-up event, check out his Instagram page.

Edouardo Jordan, Washington

Edouardo Jordan’s inspiration comes from his Sunday suppers and grandmother’s meals

Since the opening of his second restaurant, JuneBaby, Edouardo Jordan received Eater’s Best New Restaurants in 2017 and Food & Wine’s Best Restaurant of 2018. He also received a three-star review from the New York Times. Jordan was also a double winner at the 2018 James Beard Awards.

Eduardo explores his Southern roots and the cuisine of the African-American diaspora with JuneBaby’s celebration of Black, Southern food. He also celebrates the breadth of southern cuisine by showing the world that it can be high-brow and low-brow. Take the time to experience how food can showcase humble West African beginnings at Seattle based JuneBaby.

~By Virtual Marketing & Communications Intern, Laura Vo. Laura’s a Public Relations Major at Kennesaw State University and has a passion for supporting great causes like Go Eat Give.

How G Adventures Gives Back to the Community

When you are planning a trip abroad with sustainability in mind, it can sometimes be complex and hard to execute. You may think of options like a  group trip, head to a particular destination you think is more sustainable, or look for ways to make a positive impact when you arrive. Thankfully, some travel organizations, like G Adventures, take the difficulty out of preplanning and allow you to focus on how you can truly be a positive, impactful traveler.

“Changing the world through travel” has been the organization’s motto since its creation in 1990. For over 20 years, G Adventures has curated numerous bookings for individuals to revel in sustainable vacations, the local community and volunteer services that provide an enriching experience. Furthermore, G Adventures works closely with its non-profit partner – Planeterra, which aims to empower people, protect the environment, and create a ripple effect of positive impact through tourism.

From all across the globe, there are numerous vacation projects for you to pick from. The organization just introduced five new projects to the public in 2020. Be sure to check them out below to gain some destination inspiration or learn more about how you can give back to communities while traveling.

1. Dqae Qare San Lodge – D’Kar, Botswana

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The Dqae Qare San Lodge is a unique experience as it is owned and run by the San people

D’kar is a village in the Ghanzi District of Botswana. A large number of the San of Southern Africa, a marginalized group of indigenous people, resides there. They are excluded from the economy and lack social services. Moreover, they are under constant threat of their language and history being demolished by infrastructure development and lack of cultural resources. 

In the D’kar village, the Dqae Qare San Lodge is a wildlife area, lodge and campsite. It also aids in the protection of the San of Botswana. It offers full-time employment and part-time work for those who offer cultural activities and other small jobs there. Over USD $38,000 is annually paid to upkeep development projects like freshwater infrastructure and resources for preschool. Such projects are invaluable to the community, which lives in extreme poverty.

Planeterra partners with Dqae Qare San Lodge to assist them with upgrades to their site and accommodation. Funds are used to improve facilities and connect the lodge with a steady stream of travelers from G Adventures. The tourism income ensures a regular revenue for the camping grounds.

2. Reef Ecologic – Whitsundays, Australia

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The Whitsundays is just right on the corner of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia

The Whitsundays Islands is made up of 74 continental islands off the coast of Queensland, Australia. People from all over travel head here to see some of world’s finest white sands beaches and barrier reefs. However, a tropical cyclone swept through the Whitsundays region in 2017, decimating terrestrial and marine ecosystems. Along with the environmental and economic impacts, the ecosystem began to collapse because of damage done to the coral reefs. The lack of coral reefs affects marine life and leads to the disappearance of fish, sharks and sea turtles.

In a collaboration with Reef Ecologic, Planeterra integrated reef restoration programs into tourism experiences in the Whitsundays. With the sponsorship of a new coral garden, Reef Ecologic secured funding for monitoring efforts for the coral garden through tourism. When booking a trip to Whitsundays, Australia, travelers engage in various materials to learn about marine rehabilitation. They also physically help in reef recovery and integrate tourism with the community.

3. Soa Zara – Ranohira, Madagascar

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Approximately 22% of Madagascar is forest

Located off the east coast of Africa, Madagascar is the world’s fifth-largest island. It has some of the world’s largest coral reef systems and mangrove areas. In addition, it is home to an abundance of plants and animals found nowhere else on earth. However, Madagascar has lost 90% of its original forests because of destruction caused by humans. Deforestation is a major issue that has spurred from agriculture and fuel usage.

L’Association Soa Zara has planted over 10,000 trees, and Planeterra worked with them to create a tree planting activity for travelers staying at the ITC Lodge nearby.

Learn how trees sustain our planet in this book

Planeterra further supports the local organization’s efforts through community outreach programs. Soa Zara helps create washbasin stations and a water filtration system. As a result, they bridge the protection of the environment with economic development for the local people. Travelers stay at the nearby ITC Lodge and have hands-on experience with planting their own trees next to the Isalo National park. In addition, travelers learn about the reforestation project and discover ways their trip can support the renewal of habitats.

4. Libaran Island – Borneo, Malaysia

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At Libaran Island, the best time to watch turtles is between July and September

On the northeast coast of Sandakan in Malaysia, there is Libaran Island. There, you will find long beaches and crystal blue water. With its beautiful sunsets, it is also called the “Turtle Island”. Libaran Island has two species of turtles – Green Turtles and Hawksbill turtles. The remote island has little economic opportunity, but the importance of the island as an endangered sea turtle nesting site also ties into the local people having the ability to earn an income on their island. 

Help the environment by using 100% Compostable Paper Bowls Natural Disposable Bagasse, Eco-Friendly Biodegradable, Made of Sugar Cane Fibers.

The Planeterra Foundation provided a grant to fund the necessary training for Libaran villagers to make souvenirs from ocean plastic waste. Local plants are weaved and local snacks are cooked to create new tourism activities while having a new way to earn income. Travelers have more opportunities to learn about the community, observe traditional craftsmanship and enjoy the local cuisine. The project helps locals increase their capability to earn an income from sustainable tourism opportunities on the island.

5. Mesilou Home Stay – Borneo, Malaysia

At Mesilou Atamis Homestay, all travelers can engage in the daily traditions of the locals

The Mesilou Atamis Homestay is “The Highest & Coldest Homestay in Malaysia.” It lies at an altitude of about 1600m above the sea, and temperatures can reach 15 degrees celsius. The cold, highland area once showcased unique and traditional cultural activities to guests, but it had become a home rental service due to the demand from domestic tourism. The community’s goal to share their unique travel became difficult to do as many travelers saw the area only as a place to stay. Since then, a large disconnect between locals and travelers resulted.

From the former CEO of renowned travel guide publisher Lonely Planet, a look at how travel can transform not only the traveler, but also the world.

G Adventure’s Planeterra funds improvement to the homestay operation and created new tourism activities for tourists to enjoy real experiences. As a result, the project provides opportunities for young entrepreneurs returning to their home town and turning their family home into local accommodations. Also, the community can feel that they are able to shine again after years of not having the ability to share their culture with international guests. There, travelers can engage in fishing, farming and cooking with members of the community, while economically aiding through tourism.

~By Virtual Marketing & Communications Intern, Laura Vo. Laura’s a Public Relations Major at Kennesaw State University and has a passion for supporting great causes like Go Eat Give.

BetterBody Foods Recipes That Are Nutritious and Delicious

Like many others, I filled my quarantine time with baking goodies, making ice cream, and binge-watching all my streaming subscriptions. However, with school starting in a month, I’ve decided it’s finally time for me to start working out and eating healthy again. Luckily for me, summer is the best time to explore new recipes because many fruits and veggies are fresh and packed with flavor. However, while I am enjoying the best vitamins and nutrients from fresh produce, I also want to be mindful of the ingredients in staples like flour, sugar, oils, and more. By using organic, natural ingredients, I learned that I can make food taste great and still be good for the body.

BetterBody Foods

Online health food store, BetterBody Foods sent me some samples of their products to try, including their Organic Coconut Palm Sugar, Organic Coconut Flour, Virgin Organic Coconut Oil, Avocado Oil, and Organic Quinoa. The following contains my genuine experiences and opinions about the products.  

BetterBody Foods was founded by Stephen Richards who saw the devastating consequences of diabetes on his family. He wanted to make healthier food choices with “better for you” ingredients that he could share with his friends, family, and community.

I too wanted to explore how I can transform my everyday cooking into healthier alternatives with BetterBody Foods sustainable and organic products. By choosing to use natural and nutritious ingredients, I was able to still make great tasting food and meet my health goals. 

Breakfast: Buttermilk Blueberry Pancakes

I typically wake up hungry and ready to eat, so I decided to make a big breakfast of buttermilk blueberry pancakes. Using BetterBody Foods Organic Coconut Flour, Organic Coconut Palm Sugar, and Virgin Organic Coconut Oil, I was very curious as to how these ingredients would affect the taste and texture of the pancakes.

Healthy alternatives that can be a staple in any dish you make!

Pancake Ingredients

Even though the coconut flour created a thicker batter than normal, once cooked, the pancakes came out surprisingly fluffy. The coconut oil added a delicious coconutty flavor that was offset with plump and juicy blueberries I added. The pancakes also had a subtle dried coconut texture, so you know the coconut flour is made from natural ingredients. Finally, the coconut palm sugar has almost half the glycemic index as regular sugar – this means our bodies digest and absorb it more slowly which reduces our risk for diabetes and heart disease. These yummy pancakes are gluten-free and vegetarian friendly. Therefore, we can enjoy them guilt-free!

Crispy, fluffy pancakes that are guilt free too

Fluffy Buttermilk Blueberry Pancakes

Buttermilk Blueberry Pancakes Recipe

Ingredients:

  •  2/3 cup light coconut milk, room temperature
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup + 1 Tbsp BetterBody Foods Organic Coconut Flour, sifted
  •  2 Tbsp BetterBody Foods Organic Coconut Palm Sugar
  •  2/3 cup tapioca flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  •  3 large eggs
  • 2 Tbsp BetterBody Foods Virgin Organic Coconut Oil
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • BetterBody Foods Virgin Organic Coconut Oil for frying
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
betterbody foods

Steps 1 – 4

betterbody foods

Steps 5 – 6

Instructions:

  1. To make the buttermilk, mix the apple cider vinegar with the coconut milk and let it sit for a minimum of 5 minutes.
  2.  In a small mixing bowl, combine the sifted coconut flour, coconut palm sugar, tapioca flour, baking powder, baking soda, and sea salt.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the coconut buttermilk, eggs, coconut oil, and vanilla extract. Make sure your coconut oil is in a liquid state but still at room temperature. This is very important, otherwise your coconut oil will clump together!
  4. Mix the dry ingredients in small batches into the wet ingredients. Scrape down the sides and make sure that the coconut flour is thoroughly mixed in. The batter will be thick because of the coconut flour.
  5. Heat up your pan at a low/medium heat and add the coconut oil. Pour your batter in and slowly circle the pan to help spread the batter. Drop blueberries on top of the batter.
  6. Once bubbles form on the surface of the pancake, flip and continue to cook until they’re golden brown. Continue until you’ve used all the batter.
  7. Serve with fresh blueberries and maple syrup or honey.

Lunch: Crispy Korean Vegetable Pancakes (Hobak Jeon)

betterbody foods
Homemade Hobak Jeon using Betterbody Foods ingredients

Kimchi, Squash, and Zucchini Korean Pancake

For lunch, I tried my hand at Korean pancakes that I learned how to make from Chef Jiyeon of Heirloom Market BBQ. She partnered with Go Eat Give in a live cooking demonstration during lockdown. You can find the recipe and the recorded video on Go Eat Give’s Facebook page. My first attempt was not particularly successful – my pancakes weren’t crispy and they reeked of vegetable oil. I was on a mission to improve my Korean pancakes!

I knew I had to change my oil. So I replaced the generic vegetable oil with BetterBody Foods Avocado Oil because of its neutral flavor and health benefits. To create a very crispy texture, I had to use a LOT of oil. This makes it even more important to use an oil that is good for you. Since avocado oil is a monounsaturated fat, it can help reduce the bad cholesterol levels in your blood. Next, the oil must be very hot, since we’re pan frying the pancake to make it crispier. Another great benefit of avocado oil is that it has one of the highest smoke points at 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Finally, I spread out the batter to make the pancake super thin – this allows the pancake to cook through without burning.

Making each of these changes, I was able to make perfectly crispy Korean pancakes.

Watch as Chef Jiyeon Lee teaches us how to make amazing Korean pancakes!

Dinner: Citrus Quinoa Salad 

betterbody foods
A easy yet healthy meal for anyone to make at home

Fresh Citrus Quinoa Salad

At the start of quarantine, my friends started an old school recipe exchange to inspire ideas for new dishes. Quinoa was a popular ingredient, likely because of its versatility and health benefits. One of the recipes I received was a fresh and healthy citrus quinoa salad, which I wanted to make for dinner.

Since BetterBody Foods Organic Quinoa includes 6g of protein and 11% of the daily value of fiber per serving, I could have a salad that was light yet filling. Here’s a salad recipe, that’s simple and customizable to your personal taste.

Citrus Quinoa Salad Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup BetterBody Foods Organic Quinoa 
  • 3-4 cups of spring mix
  • 3 fresh mandarins, peeled
  • 1/3 cup pistachios, chopped
  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese

Dressing:

  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp freshly squeezed mandarin juice
  • 1/3 cup BetterBody Foods Avocado Oil
  • 2-3 tbsp BetterBody Foods Organic Coconut Palm Sugar
  • Sea Salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Instructions:

  1. Thoroughly rinse the quinoa to remove any residual bitterness. Following BetterBody Foods instructions – combine the quinoa with 1 cup of water, bring it to a boil, cover, reduce heat to medium low, and simmer until the water is absorbed. This will take approximately 15-20 minutes. Fluff and set it aside to cool.
  2. While the quinoa cooks, prepare the dressing by combining all the ingredients in a mason jar. Add the salt and black pepper to your taste. Close the jar and shake to mix the ingredients. Put the dressing in the fridge to cool while you prep the salad.
  3. In a large bowl, add the salad mix to the quinoa. Add the mandarins, pistachios, and feta cheese. Shake the dressing before pouring it over the salad. Add fresh salt and pepper to taste. Keep the salad and dressing separate if you don’t plan on eating the entire salad in one sitting.  

Final Thoughts 

Between diet and exercise, changing what we eat is most important to being healthier. As a self-proclaimed foodie, I never want to sacrifice the taste of my food. But with BetterBody Foods, I was able to make simple substitutions to improve the nutritious value of my meal while still keeping the delicious flavor. Try your hand at creating your own meals with BetterBody Foods or follow them on Instagram to see the fun and healthy recipes they’re cooking up. 

Go Eat Give Recipe Contest With Betterbody Foods

Are you interested in eating healthier and cooking more nutritiously? Go Eat Give is hosting a BetterBody Foods recipe contest from August 1-10, 2020. Tag #GoEatGive in your public Facebook story or post with a photo of a healthy dish you made for a chance to win the following BetterBody Food products:

PBfit Protein Peanut Butter Powder

Oatsome Organic Oat Milk

PBfit Protein Peanut Butter Spread

PBfit Protein Almond Butter Spread

Be sure to be on the lookout for our Facebook announcement of the start of the BetterBody Foods recipe contest! 

~By Melissa Ting, Marketing and Communications Intern at Go Eat Give. Melissa is an MBA student at Georgia Tech. She has a passion for discovering new foods and exploring new countries. 

SharedKey: Property Sharing Just Got Easier!

Are you in need of a weekend getaway but tired of arguing who gets to use the family cabin? Do you co-own a family rental, and you’re getting calls asking about which plumber to use, who booked the location for next month, or if there’s enough toilet paper? Luckily, SharedKey makes the nitty-gritty aspects of homeownership simpler to manage. While helping families in over 30 countries, this unique application takes the stress out of sharing a property.

“SharedKey has been developed as a private and secure solution for the millions of vacation property owners around the world. For owners of rental and home exchange properties, SharedKey is a great way to share all of the logistics, instructions and other details after a booking has been made.The result is an easy, positive and rich experience for all users,” says Mattea Spradling, Account Executive at Everything Branding

What Is SharedKey?

Anyone can try out SharedKey with a 30-day free trial

Chris and Eric Thrall vacationed at their grandparents’ log cabin in the Canadian Rockies for decades. As their families grew larger and the cabin became a shared property, scheduling and maintenance conflicts began to come up. With only virtual calendars as an option, the Thrall brothers created SharedKey

SharedKey is a centralized online system that provides a communication hub for co-owners. In addition, owners can post house rules, a schedule of occupants, a notice board for supplies and even recommendations for things to do in the area. By keeping everyone on track with lots of details, SharedKey promotes greater harmony between owners and family members. Sharing property among family, friends and guests is now simple and easy.

How Do You Use SharedKey?

SharedKey promotes family harmony and fun vacations

With a 30-day free trial, SharedKey offers a $49 pricing plan for one property with unlimited members and guests. Anyone can sign up on the website link or download the mobile app for complete access while on the go. On the platform, users post reminders for maintenance work, cleaning requirements, and create an information book for any important contacts or emergency services. Also, users have access to their personal booking calendar, which helps avoid scheduling conflicts and manage event planning. SharedKey can even help you be the perfect host by providing customized directions, a personalized welcome message, a list of activities to enjoy in the area and a virtual guest book for visitors to sign.

Why You Should Use SharedKey

SharedKey helps take the stress out of co-managing a residence or planning a vacation at a family rental. The application is also useful for managing your own home and for times when you’re hosting a get-together. When signing up for SharedKey, property information is only open to owners and their selected guests. Also, the program uses SSL certification to ensure an encrypted connection for each time you log in or record personal data, which makes SharedKey a secure system to use among friends and family. 

SharedKey can reinforce sanitation rules and correlate booking times to maintain adequate social distancing, which also helps keep COVID-19 regulations in mind. So try out this unique application for your next family vacation or trip. It makes communication much more efficient and easy to do.

~By Virtual Marketing & Communications Intern, Laura Vo. Laura’s a Public Relations Major at Kennesaw State University and has a passion for supporting great causes like Go Eat Give.

Best Travel Books of 2020 That You Need To Read

With several countries still closed and vacation plans coming to a halt, the need to travel is at an all-time high. If you are looking through old travel pictures, feeling nostalgic about places, or still trying to plan a trip for the near future, you’ll definitely get the travel blues. The pandemic has everyone on the edge of their seats, and eager to book the next flight out of town. However, who says you can’t scratch that travel itch while in lockdown?

Books are a fantastic medium to introduce yourself to new worlds, cultures and people, all from the comfort of your own home. Even if you’re not an avid reader, lounging on your patio, book in hand, while sipping a refreshing drink, is a great way to unwind or easily expand your knowledge. With the pages transporting you to a new world and life, this pastime takes your mind off of any current worries you may have.

Specifically, travel books take our imagination on endless miles that’s just as transformative as a physical journey. While self-quarantining, pick up a travel book to transport yourself to unbelievable locations, or simply cradle your wanderlust and be inspired. By the time traveling is safe again, you’ll have ideas for your next hike, drive, or even bike!

Here are a few travel books I recommend for the summer of 2020…

Hidden Places: An Inspired Traveller’s Guide by Sarah Baxter

Hidden Places: An Inspired Traveller’s Guide by Sarah Baxter. Illustrated by Amy Grimes.

Hole-in-the-wall places can be as unique and fun as going to the Eiffel Tower or the Taj Mahal. Author Sara Baxter is a travel journalist who wrote for Wanderlust Travel Magazine and The Telegraph. From her travel experiences, she compiled a list of the world’s most beautiful and unknown destinations for people to discover. From ancient gateways to underwater monuments, Hidden Places instantly transports its readers to cities with meaningful stories. The Black Forest in Germany, the Turban Oasis in China and the Kaisertal Valley in Austria are a few examples.

From the USA to Ethiopia, 25 countries are illustrated through colorful pages and descriptive details. For your next awe-inspiring view or moments that’ll take your breath away, check out this travel book.

Love with a Chance of Drowning by Torre DeRoche

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Love with a Chance of Drowning by Torre DeRoche

This charming memoir tells the story of an Australian woman with a great fear of the ocean. But one day, the man of her dreams decides to voyage across the globe on his small boat. To save her relationship and conquer her fear, she takes the plunge and sails across the Pacific for one year. While traveling, they encounter tropical landscapes, welcoming natives and have thrilling adventures. 

Love with a Chance of Drowning is an irresistibly, funny tale about the risk and rewards of living and the need to get out of one’s comfort zone. It’s a great read for someone wanting to overcome their travel fears!

The Only Gaijin in the Village by Iain Maloney

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The Only Gaijin in the Village by Iain Maloney

In 2016, Iain Maloney moved to a rural village in Japan. Maloney, who is a native Scot and now a foreigner or “gaijin” in a small Japanese village, talks about his experiences of trying to fit in and finding acceptance in the Gifu Prefecture. He learns the language, attempts farming, and even grows his own garden, while under the guidance of his neighbors. 

As a travel book, The Only Gaijin in the Village enlightens the readers with aspects of Japanese tradition, history, language and politics that were never highlighted before. It also asks the question, “what truly makes a home?” With his sarcastic humor and unique personality, Maloney describes a side of Japan that is rarely seen and speaks about the positive benefits of immigration.

The Snow Gypsy by Lindsay Jayne Ashford

travel book
The Snow Gypsy by Lindsay Jane Ashford

This novel narrates a story of two women. One searches for her missing brother, while the other hides from the truth of her past. Though both characters seem completely different, fate draws them together and takes them on a journey from London to Spain.

This novel dives deeper into the wildlands of the Camargue to the highest peaks of Spain’s ancient mountains, as both women discover a new understanding of themselves. The Snow Gypsy also plays out relationships among the British, Gypsies, and Spanish, making this travel book thrilling and informative.

Time of Birds: Reflections on Cycling Across Europe by Helen Moat

A Time of Birds by Helen Moat

Leaving her day job, Helen Moat and her teenage son set out to cycle across Europe in the new novel. While this is a story about familial relationships, A Time of Birds also touches on topics of forgiveness, understanding and self-discovery. As Helen and her son pedal through Europe’s great forest and waterways, they make new friends and find a sense of belonging in unexpected places.

This travel book narrates the importance of going to new places, meeting new people and enjoying the little moments along the way. It is a must-read for those wanting a meaningful journey and for keen cyclists!

A Month in Siena by Hisham Matar

A Month in Siena by Hisham Matar

If you’re still nostalgic of your last trip to Italy, then this book is a must-read. Hisham Matar is a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, who fell in love with Sienese art more than 25 years ago. A Month in Siena depicts the relationship between art and life during Matar’s month-long stay in the Tuscan city.

With beautiful illustrations, the inhabitants and culture come to life through recollections of food, conversations and artwork. For those who love to learn the history of a city and have an in-depth look at the lives of the people in Siena, A Month in Siena is the book for you.

~By Virtual Marketing & Communications Intern, Laura Vo. Laura’s a Public Relations Major at Kennesaw State University and has a passion for supporting great causes like Go Eat Give.

Greetings to Learn From Other Cultures

In America, what’s a common way for a person to greet someone? A usual “Hi! Nice to meet you!” followed by a handshake is what many would think of when asked that question. What started as a Greek symbol of peace has became an everyday action now, but how do you feel about the new elbow bump that’s becoming commonplace with social distancing?

With COVID-19 still a concern, you may be wary of exchanging physical contact. So instead of the usual universal greeting, why not take a look at how other cultures greet each other? Though the handshake has been a long tradition in American life, learning and trying out different new ways to greet people can be a fun, unique experience, while also helping you build stronger bonds with people from various backgrounds. It may even come in handy on your next business or leisure trip!

1. Bow

bow greeting
In Asia, a bow is appropriate for all social settings.
photo courtesy of TripSavvy

In Eastern Asian countries like Japan and Korea, bowing is a common greeting. Though everyone greets by bowing, the meaning of the gesture can take on different forms. It can symbolize respect, sincerity, humility, and remorse, depending on the context of the situation. Increase the emotion behind the greeting by bowing lower than the other person.

For a Japanese bow or “ojigi,” men should have their hands to their sides, while women would place their hands onto their laps. During the bow, make sure to lower your gaze and avoid eye contact. The neck and back should be a straight line. In informal situations, a 15-degree angle bow is acceptable, but during formal situations, a 30-degree angle bow is expected. In Korea, however, numerous bows or “konsu” are practiced. They vary from casual and respectful, to “belly-button” bows. Each gesture has different guidelines to follow for specific settings a person may be in. 

Check out this video for a more in-depth explanation and the difference between the two cultural bows!

2. Shaking Fist

I tried out this fun greeting, and it’s super easy! Try it out next time you’re with friends!
Photo courtesy by Mental Floss

This greeting of shaking your own fist in the air is common among the Kanuri tribe in Niger. The Kanuri tribe belongs to the Saharan Branch of the Nilo-Sharan, and its lineage traces back to the medieval Kanem-Bornu Empire. As farmers, fishers and traders, it’s common to encounter the Kanuri people in Southeast Niger. Instead of smiling or waving, shaking fists is a formal greeting!

To correctly do this, raise your hands at eye level and then form them into fists. Then, shake your fists while saying “wooshay!” which translates to “hi!”

3. Wai

For the wei, the higher your hands symbolizes the amount of respect shown.
Photo courtesy by Koh Samui Sunset

The wai, pronounced  “why,” is exclusive to the people of Thailand. The wai complements the Thai word “sawasdee” which means hello. However, it’s recommended to not gesture the wai to people who are younger than you, as age plays a major role in social ranking in Thailand. Instead, give them a nod and smile. Use the greeting to say goodbye, to apologize, and to pay respects to spirit houses, temples or shrines!

To wai, place your palms together with each finger touching its counterpart. With your hands at the center of your chest, bend your neck toward your fingers. As your neck is lowering, rotate your hands to where your index figure will touch your nose. The higher you place your hands, the more respect is conveyed.

4. Tongue Out

greeting
This Tibetan greeting will make kids chuckle.
Photo courtesy of Home Exchange

Across the globe, children often stick their tongues out when making fun of each other. As adults, we refrain from this as it is considered rude. In Tibet, however, it’s quite the opposite, and is actually a formal greeting. The tradition stems from the 9th century during the rule of Tibetan King Lang Darma. Known for his cruelty and black tongue, Darma is an infamous figure in Tibetian history.

Tibetans fear Darma’s incarnation and stick out their tongues as a greeting. If the tongue is not black, they are deemed not guilty of evil deeds, and are not incarnations of the malevolent king. When you visit Tibet, you don’t have to worry about being impolite since the greeting is actually a form of respect!

5. Namaste

namaste greeting
Namaste symbolizes unity and good energy.
Photo courtesy of Stuff

During this time of social distancing, namaste has become the go-to method across the globe for greeting people. The action is a customary, non-contact form of Hindu greeting predominately found in India. The meaning behind the custom is to welcome guests, relatives, or to acknowledge strangers. It expresses courtesy, politeness and gratitude, while also acting as a salutation and valediction. Derived from the Sanskrit language and meaning, “I bow to the divine in you,” namaste is the highest and most respectful greeting in the world!

To say namaste, hold both palms together with forefingers posing upwards. Bring your thumbs close to your chest. Close your eyes as you bow, and say “namaste” loud and clear. For an example of how to correctly observe this greeting, watch this video from Hemalayaa.

~By Virtual Marketing & Communications Intern, Laura Vo. Laura’s a Public Relations Major at Kennesaw State University and has a passion for supporting great causes like Go Eat Give.

Hidden Gems to Visit Across America

How can you make ordinary trips across America more unique and fun? Look for hidden gems scattered around each state! Though tourist spots like museums, bustling cities, landmarks, theme parks, or national monuments are often highlights of a destination, hidden gems like the ones listed below, can turn your traveling experience from memorable to unforgettable!

When you search for activities on your vacation, try to find hole-in-the-wall places, often times located in between attraction hotspots. You’ll find yourself learning something new while getting away from the crowds.

The easiest thing to do is Google search “unique places around me,” or “unusual things to do at ____” to look for interesting wonders to visit. You’ll also be inspired to go searching for secret spots to venture to in your own backyard. Here are some suggestions on where to get started…

California: Downtown Los Angeles Underground Tunnels 

Explore these hidden tunnels in Los Angeles
Image courtesy of Alissa Walker

What comes to mind when you think of California? Disneyland, the Hollywood sign, Santa Monica Pier – I bet you it’s not this! Most people don’t realize there are a network of tunnels underneath the city. As Los Angeles began to grow a century ago, underground tunnels were carved out for transportation needs. However, the 11-mile hidden passage became even more of a hotspot during the prohibition period. Such tunnels became the meeting place for basement speakeasies and a method for people to transport liquor. But now, they have been abandoned.

To explore this hidden gem, you can slip into an elevator behind the Hall of Records on Temple Street, or you can schedule a guided tour.

Louisiana: New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum

This cultural gem is only a three-minute walk from the St. Louis Cathedral
Image courtesy of The Captain’s Ramblings

Connected to nature, spirits and ancestors, Voodoo is a historic religion in “Big Easy” city. With its mix of African, Haitian and Catholic spiritual practices, it became widespread among the slave population of New Orleans during the 18th century. Inspired by the Voodoo culture, local artist Charles Massicot Gandolfo founded the New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum in 1972. This hidden gem offers interesting items for sale such as potions, books and fortune-telling. Also, you will find artifacts, antique dolls and recollections of the famous Voodoo Priestess Maria Laveau.

As the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans, Laveau was a black priestess who wielded tremendous power and magical abilities. Such beliefs continue today as visitors still visit her grave and make their wishes. If you want to spice up your usual trip to the French Quarter, check out this enriching culture spot.

Colorado: Paint Mines Interpretive Park

hidden gem
Capture these gorgeous colors in person on your next hiking trip
Image courtesy of El Paso County

After hiking the famous Rocky Mountains, journey on over to El Paso County, where beautiful, brightly colored rock formations will inspire you. Unlike other national parks, orange, purple and white clay bands decorate this geological formation. It’s said that ancient Native Americans collected sediments from this area 9,000 years ago to create colorful pottery and even war paint.

For anyone wanting a hiking spot that is more intimate and has a historical background, Paint Mines Interpretive Park is definitely a hidden gem to visit.

Pennsylvania: Philadelphia’s Magic Garden

A maze of various art will blow your mind
Image courtesy of Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens

Wanting to add a little magic to your vacation? Make some time to visit Philadelphia’s Magic Garden. Don’t let the name fool you. Instead of flowers, mosaic tiles, antique objects and other artistic knick-knacks entirely make up this garden.

Isaiah Zagar, a local artist in the 1960s, began tiling South Street and never stopped. A wide range of Latin-American to Chinese art fills the Magic Gardens encompassing half a city block. Don’t forget to check out the neighborhood of indoor galleries and an outdoor labyrinth. On your next trip to Philadelphia, let yourself get lost in this gorgeous work of art!

~By Virtual Marketing & Communications Intern, Laura Vo. Laura’s a Public Relations Major at Kennesaw State University and has a passion for supporting great causes like Go Eat Give.

A Complete Road Trip Guide During COVID-19

Due to the Coronavirus, the closing of numerous states and countries have put a pause in many people’s travel plans. Though it may be a while before the tourism industry takes full flight again, the United States is beginning to ease its quarantine restrictions as states make plans to reopen. That being said, family-friendly, affordable and fun summer getaways can still be enjoyed, while abiding by CDC’s health guidelines. Now is the best time to start planning for practical road trips you and your loved ones can experience, and here are a few tips to keep in mind when preparing for your upcoming road trip.

Heath and safety reminders at Rock City Gardens

Pack An Essentials Bag

An emergency bag is important for every road trip you take, especially during this time. When preparing your kit, remember to gather any over-the-counter medications like Tylenol, Pepto Bismol and Benadryl, so you’re ready to combat any health symptoms you may experience and avoid an impromptu trip to the store. To save money and avoid too many stops, pack granola bars and energy drinks along with other non-perishable foods. 

Your main essentials to pack to help you practice good hygiene and ensure your safety include –  sanitary items such as gloves, wet wipes, at least 60% alcohol-based hand sanitizer, and face masks. Use disposable gloves when pumping gas or entering rest areas. Wear a face mask whenever you leave your car to protect yourself and those around you. Be sure to regularly wipe down surfaces before and after touching them, and you’re ready to go!

The Ultimate PPE Care Package includes all the essentials you need for travel

Get 10% off Ultimate PPE CarePackage with code: GOEATGIVE10. The ready-to-go travel box comes complete with reusable and disposable face masks (including KN95 Face Masks), hand sanitizer, flushable wipes, safety glasses and several pairs of gloves.

The Riverview Inn is tucked away in the historic Lookout Mountain

Stay In Places Where Social Distancing Is Easier

With new regulations in place, several hotels, Like Extended Stay America and Hyatt, have also implemented new policies on how they will maintain social distancing and sanitize their facility. Familiarize yourself with the guidelines provided by the American Hotel & Lodging Association

Before booking a room, call the hotel or visit the website to see what COVID-19 protocols are in place. When checking into your hotel, also ask to decline housekeeping to reduce the number of people entering your room. Try to avoid densely populated locations that are popular “tourist areas,” such as Las Vegas or New York. Also, now may be a good time to stay at a short-term vacation rental, condo, or AirBnB that will limit frequent contact with others. 

Set ground rules for traveling together

Travel With People You Are Quarantined With

Some say that the best part of a road trip is the company they bring along. When planning for your destination, consider who to travel with. It is best to choose people you’ve been in constant contact with or have been self-quarantining with. Such individuals can be family members in the same house, roommates and significant others. 

Establish social distancing rules that everyone follows before, during and after the road trip. Make sure everyone is on the same page with protecting themselves and potentially exposing others. It’s important to pick people who can earnestly self-quarantine themselves and can guarantee they will not come into contact with others after the trip.

Wash hands after visiting and touching public areas

Disinfect Frequently During The Road Trip

The CDC released a disinfection guide for everyone to follow good hygiene practices for any situation. When making stops for food, gas and resting, bacteria is easily transferred from outside surfaces and to those around you. With your road trip kit packed and ready to go, make it a habit to wipe down the inside of your car and surfaces that you may touch often – such as gas pumps, car door, restroom fixtures, handles, and your phone. Wash hands frequently and avoid touching your face. It’s also a good idea to disinfect your room when checking into your hotel.

Plan ahead and be a smart traveler

Preplan Your Locations and Activities

With several businesses and attractions being closed, there’s a good chance that your typical summer activities are on hold. However, The National Governors Association created a terrific resource to show which states are under stay-at-home orders. For your road trip, prepare for closed theme parks, boardwalks, beaches and parks. Map how many rest stops you may take, and be on the lookout for any toll collection sites that require either cash or card. Also, know which restaurants allow on delivery/carry out, have limited dine-in services, or are reservations only by checking online and calling. It’ll save you the hassle once you hit the road!

~By Virtual Marketing & Communications Intern, Laura Vo. Laura’s a Public Relations Major at Kennesaw State University and has a passion for supporting great causes like Go Eat Give.