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.

B&B Getaway in Blue Ridge Mountains

Are you dreaming of a quick escape to a place within driving distance where you can have a change of scenery and still keep social distance? Do you want to breathe cool fresh air, stare at rolling hills from your balcony, or cool down in a waterfall?

Located only 1.5 hours from the city of Atlanta, are the Blue Ridge Mountains, part of the 550 miles long Appalachian Mountain range. There are lots of hiking areas, waterfalls, wineries, and produce farms in the area, which has also recently been nicknamed as the “New Napa Valley.” There are over 40 boutique wineries in the area, and a charming downtown Blue Ridge, with restaurants, shops, art galleries, and even a scenic train. To take advantage of all that North Georgia has to offer, plan to stay a couple of nights in the area.

Where to Stay

blue ridge b&b
Blue Ridge Scenic Railway takes people to Toccoa River and into the Chattahoochee National Forest

There are many chain motels in the countryside, but if you want to have a memorable weekend getaway, stay at family-run Overlook Inn at Chatsworth.

blue ridge b&b
Private suite at The Overlook Inn

Unlike most inns around, The Overlook Inn is an actual home that is built with 6 independent suites, each equipped with a fireplace, as well as a hot tub or jacuzzi. Every suite is named after a hiking trail in the area, and has a distinct character. There is a Council Room (great room) that serves as a family/ dining room where you can chat with the innkeepers, meet other guests, or simply cozy up in a corner with a good book. The log cabin style decor is accented by modern touches, an upright piano, and a collection of books from around the world.

Feel at Home

Innkeepers Bill & Nicole call themselves the “yin and yang” team

Innkeepers – Nicole and Bill purchased the property in January 2020. The couple took a break from their corporate work to start something of their own. Bill had lived in the UK and had fond memories of English style B&B’s, while Nicole enjoyed gardening, decorating, and meeting people. She had always dreamt of owning a B&B someday. Since they started their new lives, the pandemic hit the travel industry, but they saw this as an opportunity to ease into the business. Now, they feel they work harder than ever, but it doesn’t feel like it as they are doing something they are passionate about.

Nicole and Bill have added their own touches to the guest experience at The Overlook Inn. Rooms are deeply cleaned and an amenity basket with bathrobes, soaps and fresh baked cookies make for an inviting welcome. Bill, who doubles as a handyman, chef and receptionist, presents a personalized breakfast menu to accommodate special diets and prepare fresh meals with a lot of love. Three-course breakfast options may include Bill’s decadent french toast with local berries and whipped cream, Nicole’s famous spinach quiche, or new menu items that change every week.

Food to Enjoy

blue ridge b&b
Nicole serves wine and cheese to individual guests

There’s also a daily wine and cheese happy hour from 5-6pm, where guests can enjoy a glass of wine and locally sourced cheeses, while lounging in the Council Room. This is a wonderful opportunity to just chill and enjoy the mountain views from the large windows, and you may even spot some bears or a wild turkey! Walk over across the street to The Overlook point, a popular spot to watch the sunset.

Once the sun is down, you can continue to stay in and have an intimate dinner at the Inn. The Fireside for Two 3-course dinner accompanied by a bottle of wine is only $79 and well worth the ambiance, service and food! Start off with toasted rosemary bread and North Georgia Mountain caviar (vegetarian). Then have grilled chicken, BBQ burger, or a pecan wood smoked trout for entree, with a few homemade sides. Dessert changes daily, but if you’re lucky, you may get to try the decadent deep dish chocolate chip cookie with vanilla ice cream!

Other Activities to Do

Lookout deck at Fort Mountain State Park

The Overlook Inn is located halfway between Ellijay and Chatsworth, 2 miles from Fort Mountain State Park, a historic area that was once home to Cherokee Indians, with a manmade beach, lake, campground, and walking trails. Make sure to hike up to see the stone tower and lookout deck. Situated in the Chattahoochee National Forest, Fort Mountain State Park offers many outdoor activities, such as hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding.

Row after row of endless greenery at Chateau Meichtry

On your way back, hike up the Amicalola Falls, stop by for a glass of wine and live music at Chateau Meichtry, and stock up on farm fresh fruits and vegetables from Nature’s Creek Farm. Depending on the season, you can also find apple orchards, sunflower farms or blueberry farms that are open.

To keep guests safe, Bill and Nicole wear masks when cooking and serving food, have tables spaced out and take reservations for breakfast and dinner, to allow for social distancing. A trip to The Overlook Inn is a quiet escape to a slower pace, far removed from the bustle of city life, but convenient for weekend getaways from Atlanta or Chattanooga. With the breath-taking views of the Blue Ridge, you will come as guests and leave as friends!

Farmhouse: Atlanta’s Original Farm-to-Table Restaurant

Enter the kitchen of Chef Thaddeus Barton to find authentic flavors of the South, blended with his culinary skills from Chicago, San Francisco, Ohio and Portland. At Farmhouse, the main restaurant located at Serenbe Farms (south of Atlanta), the chef and farmer come together each morning to plan a locally inspired menu. Ashley (the farmer) gives an inventory of vegetables and herbs growing on the property, and Chef Barton changes the menu weekly. Serenbe sources the ingredients as well as neighboring farms in Georgia and around the south.

serenbe farms
The Farmhouse at Serenbe uses ingredients grown from the restaurant’s personal garden

The Dining Experience

The first thing you have to try on the dinner menu is the Farmhouse Yeast Rolls. These are melt-in-your-mouth buttery-warm biscuit-style bread rolls that are comforting at all levels. It is very difficult to stop once you grab one bite! Chef Barton says he played around with the recipe until he got it “just right.”

yeast rolls at serenbe farm
These flakey, pillow-like biscuits are hard to put down!

Fried Catfish is a popular dish in the south. Breaded with rustic cornflour and deep-fried till crispy, these fish fillets are a delicate delight. Red chili sauce is also served to turn up the heat.

The Must-Haves

fried catfish at Farmhouse
Lightly breaded and fried to perfection, the Fried Catfish is a southern classic

No visit to Georgia is complete without Fried Green Tomatoes. This classic southern recipe has slight variations in the batter, sauce, and presentation (I have enjoyed ones with blue cheese). The Farmhouse restaurant picks the tomatoes from the gardens at Serenbe located right outside. It is highly encouraged that you take a short walk around the campus before sitting down for a gastronomic feast.

fried green tomatoes at Farmhouse
Hand picked, locally sourced tomatoes are a must have at The Farmhouse

Chef Barton keeps true to his diverse culinary experiences when serving the Jambalaya Risotto. Peppery flavored shrimp, chicken, and sausage in perfectly looked arborio – oh my!

Jambalaya Risotto at Farmhouse
Chef Barton’s culinary expertise can be seen through the vibrant colors of his dishes!

If you crave for those weekend dinners at your grandmothers home, come to Serenbe on a Sunday. The Farmhouse serves a mean Fried Chicken, with green beans and mashed potatoes (sides change weekly) from 11:30am-6pm.

The desserts are southern as they can be – satisfying Red Velvet Cheesecake, crunchy and not overwhelmingly sweet Pecan Bourbon Pie, and a cake-like Peach Cobbler.

To wash it all down, try the Farmhouse Martini (Hangar 1 Vodka, Cointreau, Organic Cranberry Juice, Lime Juice, Prosecco), a glass of the Lavender Champagne, or select from a comprehensive bar menu.

Additional Features

Serenbe also features a Southern Chef Series that includes cooking classes and book signings with celebrity chefs from the south. Coming up in 2015: Linton Hopkins from Restaurant Eugene, Kevin Gillespie of Gunshow, Asha Gomez of Spice to Table, Gerry Klaskala of Aria, Ford Fry of The Optimist (plus a few others), Art Smith of Southern Art, Iron Chef Chris Hastings, and TV personality Nathalie Dupree. Book reservations months in advance!

Additionally, the Serenbe Farmers and Artisan Market runs from May – October and is open to the public. Enjoy a meal in the country and take some bounties home to cook with!

Click here to make a reservation at The Farmhouse at Serenebe Farms.

Nigeria’s place on the world scene: Interesting facts about the “Giant of Africa”

Nigeria, also referred to as the “Giant of Africa,” is located in West Africa between the Republics of Benin, Chad, Cameroon, and Niger. With over 174 million inhabitants, Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa, and the seventh most populous in the world. It is made up of over 300 ethnic groups speaking more than 521 languages, the fourth largest grouping of languages in the world, yet it is only about twice the size of California. Nigeria gets its name from the Niger river that flows through its landscape, and is home to one of the oldest known locations of human existence. Thanks to its size and abundance of natural resources, Nigeria is the most important player in Africa and one of the biggest in the world scene, and is slated to become even bigger in the next half a century.

As of 2014, Nigeria’s economy is the largest in Africa, worth more than $500 billion, and is the 32nd largest economy in the world. It is expected to become one of the world’s top 20 economies by 2050. Much of this economic power is due to its crude oil production industry. Nigeria is the 12th largest producer of petroleum and the 8th largest exporter, brining in billions of dollars annually. This level of wealth is evident in many aspects of its culture. Nigeria is home to 5 of the 10 wealthiest pastors in the world according to Forbes, worth between $10 and $150 million. It is also home to the world’s third largest film industry, Nollywood.

But with the good also comes the bad. Due to its economic wealth and various military dictatorships that have ruled the country since its independence in 1960, Nigeria is arguably one of the most corrupt nations in the world. Its legislators are among the highest paid worldwide, while its people are among the poorest, with more than 100 million Nigerians living in destitution and for less than one dollar a day. In 2013 Nigeria was rated the worst country in the world to be born in based on welfare and prosperity projection. Based on an income of $81 billion per year and the amount of that squandered annually, Nigeria has been deemed the most corrupt nation in the world, due to its government’s tendency of stealing hundreds of billions of dollars from the public.

So how is this contradiction possible, and what is there to do about it? To learn this and more about the “Giant of Africa,” come to our next event Destination Nigeria on August 14, and hear Nigerian Ambassador Geoffrey I. Teneilabe and Dr. Omoh T. Ojior of the Onima Institute, speak about current issues plaguing Nigeria, its economy and its people.

Destination Nigeria flyer

~ By Allie Williams, a recent graduate of the University of Georgia. Allie explores her passion for food, travel, and learning about different cultures though her internship with Go Eat Give.

La Tagliatella Provides an Italian Option for Vegetarians

I recently attended a blogger dinner hosted by the Association of Food Bloggers in Druid Hills, GA. La Tagliatella is an Italian chain restaurant based out of Europe with locations in many different parts of the world, including Spain, France, Germany, China, and the United States. The Emory Point location has been around for couple of years, and features a nice outdoor area that provides a great atmosphere for cool summer evenings. The restaurant boasts that it’s food is an authentic representation of Italian cuisine, although I’m not sure if I agree with that assessment.

First, the restaurant served its version of a Caprese salad as a Buffalo, Mozzarella and Tomato Carpaccio, which consisted of grated fresh tomatoes dressed with black olive pate, and topped with buffalo mozzarella and anchovies. The main difference between a traditional Caprese salad and this dish is that the tomatoes were served grated instead of sliced, to the point that it was almost like eating fresh salsa. It sounds weird, but I actually loved it. I don’t normally enjoy eating tomatoes, but the way they combined with the buffalo mozzarella, made this a delightfully fresh dish, perfect for summertime.

caprese salad

Next was Tagliatella pizza, which consisted of tomato sauce, mozzarella, and fried eggplant slices, drizzled with honey and balsamic glaze, and topped with freshly shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. The crust was rolled out very thin, into an almost cracker-like consistency, which I’ve been told is typical of authentic Napolitano pizza. This was by far one of the most unique pizzas I’ve ever had, mostly due to the honey, which added a sweet component to an otherwise savory dish. While it wasn’t necessarily a bad combination, it wasn’t something I would normally expect on a pizza. Overall I enjoyed this particular dish, but I don’t think it’s something I would order, unless my sweet tooth was having a serious craving.

tagliatella pizza

The main course consisted of three different pasta dishes. The Cuore Pasta in Pesto Rosso Panna, was stuffed with butternut squash, served in a light cream sauce with Sole di Puglia tomatoes, pine nuts, and Grana Padano cheese. The light cream sauce combined well with the butternut squash, was light and flavorful, and didn’t leave me feeling like I needed to run 10 miles after eating it. This was my favorite dish of the night by far.

Cuore Pasta in Pesto Rosso Panna

The second pasta dish, Tortellone pasta in Quattro Formaggi, consisted of round, green pasta stuffed with mozzarella, tomato, and basil, served in a cream sauce of Grana Padano, gorgonzola, gruyere, and emmental cheeses. The amount of cheeses in this alone was more than enough to get me excited. However, I found that the combination wasn’t as stellar as I had hoped. Triangle di gorgonzola pasta in pesto was the downer of the night. This pasta was triangle shaped, stuffed with gorgonzola cheese and pear, and served in an olive oil based sauce made of basil, pine nuts, and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.  Maybe it was the pesto paired with the gorgonzola, or the fact that the pasta was undercooked, that left a bad taste in my mouth. Whatever it was, it definitely didn’t work and I would suggest skipping this dish.

pesto gorgonzola

A Bocconcino custard and cheesecake drizzled with salted caramel, with a wafer on the side was served for dessert. A shot of Limoncello di Capri paired well as an after dinner drink. This dessert proved to be the perfect ending to a refreshing meal. The bulk of the dish consisted of a light and airy lemon-flavored custard, with a slight cheesecake consistency. I couldn’t stop eating it. Normally after any sort of Italian meal, I’m so stuffed that the prospect of eating anything else is unappealing, but this dessert was light enough that I had no problems eating more than my fair share.

Bocconcino

About halfway through the evening, someone commented that the meal seemed to be heading down a strictly vegetarian route. To be honest, I hadn’t realized that all of our courses were vegetarian until someone mentioned it, which surprised me considering how much I love meat. I typically run from the word “vegetarian,” due to the picture of a vegetable garden, and the meals I used to make for my late rabbit, Snowball. However, I’m glad this meal turned out to be vegetarian, as it gave me a different view on what a vegetarian meal constitutes. For vegetarians, I think this restaurant offers some great options that would also please meat lovers like me.

~ By Allie Williams, a recent graduate of the University of Georgia. Allie explores her passion for food, travel, and learning about different cultures though her internship with Go Eat Give.

Into the Wild: The Yogi’ Who Ventured Into the Outdoors

There exist several well-documented examples demonstrating that one week of camping sans electronics, not only resets our biological body clock but also synchronizes Melatonin (a hormone) production with sunrise and sunset.

Armed with the knowledge of these studies, ventured into the outdoors, and into the very lap of nature. Though I am an avid Yoga enthusiast, the decision overall was prompted by a very dear friend of mine, Andrea, coupled with my own notions of the universe, and its role in life was compelling enough for me to take up this challenge of a camping trip.

A Tent from when the Yogis Ventured into the Outdoors
Setting Up Camp on the Venture Outdoors

Venturing Into the Outdoors

We decided to camp at The Desoto Falls located off Highway 129. The drive itself urged me to readily surrender to the bounty of nature and the wilderness which nourished my soul. I believe that camping is a silent form of adventure, which brings clarity to mind as well as allows the soul to soak in the positivity around. For me, it is a stress buster, wherein I can be myself while enjoying my surroundings without worrying about everyday mundane tasks.

Divya Sarin and friend on the Yoga Camping Trip
Divya Sarin and friend on the Yoga Camping Trip

Setting Up Camp

When it comes to planning a camping trip, a lot does go into it, especially with all the equipment you’re going to need. With that being said, if you have the basics like a sleeping bag, a tent, and cooking utensils, that’s a great start. While we briefly mentioned tents, if you’re not someone who likes to spend time putting each pole together and attempting to build a tent, it may be worth checking out something like this Top 10 Best Instant Tents (1 To 8 Person Pop-up & Quick Setup) guide. This may help you make your decision about finding a new tent a lot less stressful.

Luckily, we drove up with a trailer so we could take quite a lot of stuff with us. I don’t think we would have fit all of our stuff in the back of an ordinary car! A friend of ours recommended looking at campingfunzone.com so that we would know all of the trailer components. It was useful to know about the axles and storage, just in case we need to sleep in it. Deciding the campsite, setting up the tents, arranging food, and starting the campfire, requires immense strength. Yet, despite the strenuous tasks, our bodies oozed energy like never before and our quest for adventure grew by leaps and bounds. When at last, we did start to feel at home, we spent time making smores and talked our hearts, not mention that some of us were also strangers for one another.

Building and Rebuilding

By the time, the day lapsed into the night we had cemented that awkward relationship into a budding new friendship – our hearts were lighter, the summer became cooler and our energies were higher. We had the best sleep in years with just the sounds of crickets and the nearby creek as lullabies. To further quench our thirst for adventure we started our second day with yoga, in the company of trees by the creek and followed up with a staggering 4.8 miles hike from Neel Gap to Blood mountain along the Appalachian Trail.

It rained while we hiked, which was soothing, and the majestic view from the top raised our spirits to an unknown level of ecstasy and elation. The trip concluded three days later with quality time spent with friends and most importantly nature. Our zeal for adventure has reached a pinnacle, not to mention our inquisitiveness to know more about nature. I now know that mountains are my calling, for I have left a piece of my heart there.

Yogis doing yoga at camp in the wild
Yoga While in Nature

A Continuing Tradition

Every year, Andrea and I, take the interested yogis amidst nature to make them disconnect from the daily routine. Camping once in a year helps in relaxing the mind. It sets the natural alarm clock for the body, helps with mood swings, and also engaging with nature by turning off the mobile phones/laptops lowers the stress levels and is believed to be equivalent to meditation.

I urge each one, my reader, to venture into the outdoors, go camping, and hiking, at least once in life and I promise you will not be able to stop yourself from doing it again. Let loose and for a change, party with nature. Smell the moist earth and take home the fragrance you would love to wear.

~ By Divya Sarin, a yoga enthusiast who can’t sit idle, and wants to create some magic in each person’s life. 

Good Samaritans of Atlanta

While Atlanta braced Snowpocalypse 2014, a 1-2 inch snow accumulation that virtually paralyzed the city’s roads, I kept abreast of the happenings via local TV stations and social media. It was ironic to see a plethora of excitement, panic, frustration and gratitude, all within a matter of minutes. Friends were posting photos of chaotic traffic and icy accidents while waiting in their cars to get back home (the record being 24 hours for a 30-mile drive). Desperate parents were calling around to see if someone can get to schools on time and pick up their kids since many school buses stopped operating. On the other hand, I also saw photos of kids playing in the snow, sledding around the neighborhood, while adults drank hot cocoa by the fireplace. The most heartwarming stories came from everyday citizens of Atlanta, who collectively reached out to help those in need.

A technology consultant, Michelle Sollicito turned out to be one of the hero’s of this week. She created an open group on Facebook called “SnowedOutAtlanta” where anyone could share local level traffic updates, shelter sites and emergency phone numbers. Many of the 50,000 members (who joined the group within 24 hours) posted locations of where they were and offered to take strangers in. Sollicito told The Atlanta Journal Constitution that the group had helped over 400 people, including an elderly woman with cancer, a pregnant mom with a young child, and a man with a heart problem who needed to get to the hospital.

atlanta shelters

On the street level, volunteers jumped in to pull cars out of ditches, and push vehicles out of the way. I came to know several good samaritans who carried water and snacks in their backpacks, distributing to those stuck in their cars. Ray Thatch, who was working near Atlanta airport at the time, felt that the city’s 30 or so snow vehicles may not be able to reach 4 million people in time. He decided to drive around in his rugged Land Cruiser to look for stranded folks and rescued people till 3am.

snow storm in atlanta

Almost all of my Atlanta based Facebook friends listed their home coordinates and offered a place to crash if someone was near the area. My husband ended up spending the night on a friend’s couch on Marietta St, since he couldn’t get any further than 4 miles in 4 hours, while I hosted another girlfriend who was having a nervous breakdown after 8 hours of driving. This may have been the largest impromptu slumber party in the city’s history!

Anna Sierdzinski was walking around Lenox Rd where she found a lady standing in the cold and asked her if she needed a cup of coffee or to use the restroom. The stranger ended up spending a few hours at Anna’s home, escaping the bitter temperatures. In fact, a lot of people took to the streets handing out free hot cocoa and coffee, as Atlantans temporarily abandoned their cars and walked home. Keep in mind, Atlanta roads are not made for walking and oftentimes, sidewalks are hard to find.

Even the day after the storm, while all schools and offices were closed, people continued to share traffic updates, send help, and care for others. Small business owners and friends, David Baumgarten and Daniel Adam Johnson used the snow-day off to feed the homeless and passersby. They grabbed a grill, gas tanks and hot dogs and set up shop right from their pick up truck on Interstate 20.

Daniel & David on I20

According to local reports, 1 person died, 130 were hurt, and 1300+ accidents occurred during the snowstorm. This kind of effort helped save lives, and whilst there were still some hideous crashes of which the likes of legal firms (e.g lamber goodnow) will likely be helping with the recovery from, it is heartwarming to know that the people of our city worked together in a time of great need.It could have been worse had it not been for all those who watched out for their neighbors and friends. The events of past two days only prove how we, as human beings can come together and overcome any disaster.

If you have a story to share from the Atlanta Snowpocalypse 2014, please leave a comment below…

Today is Georgia Gives Day

GAGives_LogoOur lives have all been touched by a nonprofit, whether it’s the hospital we were born in, the schools that educate us, the parks and arts we enjoy or the animal shelter where we found our best friend.

You can make your community a safer, happier and better place to live by donating to the nonprofit that means the most to you. The mission of Go Eat Give to raise awareness of different cultures globally and locally through travel, food and community service. We organize Destination Dinners, Cooking Classes and Volunteer Vacations showcasing communities that live in our own backyards. We depend on the support of volunteers and donors LIKE YOU to sustain our organization.

Cooperative farm in Cuba
Cooperative farm in Cuba

Let’s all give back on November 13, 2013 to Go Eat Give on Georgia Gives Day!

  • $25 – Sponsor Atlanta high school students at a Destination Dinner to increase their cultural awareness
  • $50 – Purchase equipment to support sustainable cooperative farming in Cuba
  • $100 – Contribute towards construction of toilets in village schools in Indonesia
  • $500 – Sponsor an underprivileged family to go on a Go Eat Give trip

Teachers toilet in Bali village school
Teachers toilet in Bali village school

FAQs

What is GA Gives Day?
On November 13th, thousands of people across Georgia will raise as much money as possible in a 24-hour period for nonprofits through the website.

The mission of Georgia Gives Day is to inspire individuals to donate to participating nonprofits through GAgivesday.org with the goal of raising as much money as possible within a 24-hour period.

How does it work?
GAgivesday.org makes donating easy by organizing hundreds of nonprofits across the state onto one website, providing the information people need to select a cause, and enabling online donations by credit card or e-check.

How do I donate?
It’s easy! Simply visit our profile page and make a donation via credit card or echeck. Every penny counts when we are giving back into our nonprofits that make our state beautiful and a wonderful place to live.

Once you’ve selected a cause and made your donation, tell your friends by sharing on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or the outlet of your choice.

When is Georgia Gives Day?
Georgia Gives Day will take place on November 13, 2013.

Can I only give on November 13th?
Although November 13th has been named Georgia Gives Day and the mass media campaign will focus on this day, GAgivesday.org will function as an ongoing, year round giving platform. You can give any time!

GAgivesday.org will function and accept donations year round, with an emphasis placed on November 13th.

Who is involved?
Georgia Gives Day is a collaboration of the Georgia Center for Nonprofits in partnership with participating nonprofits, corporations, associations, foundations and public relations and advertising firms.

Georgia Gives Day involves hundreds of nonprofits throughout the state that support a wide variety of causes.

Is it safe to travel abroad?

It boggles my mind when people ask me, “Is it safe to travel abroad?” Eyebrows rise when I tell someone I am going to Honduras or South Korea, and they show concern for my security. Perhaps they heard of a recent kidnapping, tsunami or nuclear threat in that country, but is it safer to stay home?

Continue reading “Is it safe to travel abroad?”