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.

Travel Destinations Helping The Community

Tour operators, travel writers, public relations people, and travelers – we are all keeping our social distances and not going anywhere. Certain destinations are finding innovative ways to get people through it offering a helping hand, sending positive messaging, and banding their citizens together.

Let’s take a look at some of the traveling destinations that are helping the community during this time of crisis…

Travel Destinations that are Helping the Community
Hand washing Stations in Berkeley, CA

The city has deployed over 25 handwashing stations around the city, primarily giving homeless citizens a way to clean up and take steps to avoid spreading the coronavirus.

Supporting Local Businesses in Charlotte, N.C.

In Charlotte, NC, It’s all about supporting local businesses, with a dedicated webpage encouraging denizens who are foodies, families, fitness fans, and fundraisers to remain active in the community. Think of it as the F-words that you can say without ruffling any feathers.

The site details the offers, but essentially there are four key takeaways:

– The city encourages taking out food, tipping, and buying gift cards from local vendors. 
– It shares entertainment options for families sheltering inside, including live stream events like bingo and science experiments.- It urges fitness fans to attend virtual yoga and dance classes. 
– It implores citizens to fundraise and give back, donating blood, food products, and money to charities citywide.

Virtual Fun in Chattanooga, TN
Lookout point in the Chattanooga Community
Lookout point in Chattanooga


The Chattanooga Tourism Co. has launched Connect Chatt to bring people together digitally in Chattanooga and across the world who are practicing social distancing. The team will be sharing the community’s virtual experiences through social media using the hashtag #ConnectChatt and online at ChattanoogaFun.com/Connect. The social posts will include a way in which everyone can support Chattanoogans through virtual tipping, buying season passes, ordering takeout, etc.

The ConnectChatt virtual experience series kicked off on St. Patrick’s Day with a live performance from Stringer’s Ridge Band, which played Irish tunes from home via Facebook Live. Their virtual tip jar generated about as much as a normal gig, and they played to more than 10,000 people. Yesterday, the Tennessee Aquarium and Ruby Falls gave live tours. 

Pizza, Beer and Music in Cincinnati, OH
Helping Communities in Cincinnati
Cincinnati Skyline


Madtree Brewing Co. is bringing food to the streets of the Queen City to help keep spirits high in the city and assist in feeding all of those who must stay quarantined. Their draft truck will be providing curbside pizza and beer from 11 am – 7 pm.

ArtsWave is launching Mindful Music Moments, a partnership created by the Well in partnership with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and Cincinnati Opera. Members of the public can sign up for a free 10-week subscription to Mindful Music Moments, brief daily combinations of meditation and music. Mindful Music Moments is one of more than 100 projects and organizations funded through ArtsWave each year

Mita’s Restaurant has transformed into a relief center for any restaurant worker who has been laid off or has had a significant reduction in hours and/or pay. With the help of Makers Mark, the restaurant is offering help for those in dire need of food and supplies. Each night, it will pack hundreds of to-go dinners that will be offered to recently unemployed restaurant workers. Mita’s is also stocking supplies for those in need: diapers, baby food, non-perishable canned foods and cereals, toilet paper when available, paper towels, notebooks and pencils, aspirin and more.

Corner Stores in Long Beach, CA

Local restaurants in Long Beach are transforming into corner stores to help feed the population while table service has ceased. Breweries are baking goods and restaurants are rebranding as markets to help locals who would otherwise be waiting in long lines at the supermarkets.

Homeless Shelters in Oakland, CA

Hotels in Oakland
Hotels in Oakland


Two Oakland Hotels open their doors to house homeless people. While many individuals are sheltering in place, those without shelter are doing the best they can. To help reduce the risk of coronavirus spreading through the homeless population, the city is working with two hotels to offers stays of up to three months, a fantastic way to use tourism facilities that aren’t otherwise being used.

Free Grocery Vouchers in Seattle, WA

The city of Seattle giving out grocery vouchers to families, up to $800 per family. The distributions will total some 5 million dollars and will help families where parents have lost jobs because of coronavirus closures.

Stream To The Zoo in St. Louis, MO
Tiger at the St. Louis Zoo
Explore the St. Louis Zoo Online


For those stuck inside, the St. Louis Zoo has launched stlzootube to let viewers tune in from home and see what’s happening inside the city’s zoo. Although the Zoo may be closed to the public, its team wants to #BringTheStlZooToYou! Their first priority is the care and well-being of our animals, but when they can, they will be happy to add something fun & positive to your newsfeed that focuses on helping the community. They also did a penguin tour on social media. It’s not just the zoo: St. Louis Aquarium hosted a morning breakfast event with their baby sloth Coconut, so look for more in the future.

Do you know of any businesses or destination that are helping the community? Do send us an email – info at goeatgive dot com – so we can feature them!