NRAEF : Blog

Honoring Black History Month

by | Feb 2, 2021 | Blog Post |

Today marks the first day of Black History Month 2021!

At the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, we’ll be spending the next few weeks honoring and recognizing the countless contributions Black and African American chefs, restauranteurs, and culinary educators have made in our field.


Moreover, we’ll be discussing important topics such as the significance of representation and mentorship in the workplace, how to honor Black History Month by learning about new recipes and their origins, and how we can uplift Black content creators, chefs, and students.

To kick off our celebrations this month, we’ll be recognizing just a few Black and African American chefs that have left a notable impact on the culinary field. Below we’ve compiled a list of a few chefs and culinary creators whose work you should follow!  

Best of all, we’re giving away THREE cookbooks so you can honor and celebrate Black History Month at home and in your classrooms. One of the best ways to learn about a culture is through food, and we encourage each and every one of you to pick up a new cookbook month by a Black/African American cookbook author! Simply comment on our Facebook post and/or Instagram post and let us know which book you’d be most excited to receive.


Dr. Jessica B. Harris, an American culinary historian, college professor, cookbook author, and journalist.


According to Heritage Radio Network, “there’s perhaps no greater expert on the food and foodways of the African Diaspora than Doctor Jessica B. Harris.” In other words, she is a living legend!

Not only is she the author of twelve critically-acclaimed cookbooks, she’s been honored with countless awards and was asked by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture to conceptualize and curate the cafeteria of the new museum on the Mall in Washington DC.

If you haven’t learned about Dr. Harris’s work, we highly recommend checking it out! You can learn more about her cookbooks, history books, and podcast on her website.

As part of our giveaway, we’re offering the chance to win Dr. Harris’s cookbook, The Africa Cookbook: Tastes of a Continent, which “takes you on a tour of the Motherland, exploring the extraordinary diversity of the cuisines of the continent.”

CREDIT: Doctor Jessica B. Harris:



Chef Kwame Onwuachi, award-winning chef, author, and restauranteur 


We’ve always admired Chef Kwame, but he has held a special place in our hearts since he joined us for our National ProStart Invitational in 2019! If you’re not familiar with Chef Kwame, he is James Beard Winner, was named as a
Forbes “30 under 30” rising star, and published a memoir titled “Notes From A Young Black Chef.” His career is certainly one to watch and we’ve loved seeing Kwame get the spotlight he deserves!

Better Homes & Gardens recently wrote about Chef Kwame, referring to him as a “trailblazer and trendsetter.” At only 31 years old, he has already been nationally recognized for his entrepreneurial spirit and resilience. His memoir is sure to inspire and his culinary career is nearly just getting started!

Learn more about his work here.



Mariya Russell, the first black woman to earn a Michelin Star in 2020 for her work as chef de cuisine of the popular Chicago bar Kumiko and its sister restaurant, Kikko.


After less than a year as the chef de cuisine at Kumiko and Kikkō, chef Mariya Russell became the first Black woman to earn a Michelin star.

After being honored with this award, Russel shared with Essence that she’d like to help mentor other Black people. “I feel very strongly that I can help other people achieve what they want in life,” she says. “It doesn’t even matter if they want to be a chef; I’m just about encouraging people to follow their dreams and focus on the fact that you’re more human than the titles that you’re given, no matter what your gender, your race… it doesn’t matter. If you have a dream, you can totally achieve it.”

You can follow Mariya Russel on Instagram here

Chef Marcus Samuelsson, award-winning chef, restaurateur, cookbook author, philanthropist and food activist.


Do you recognize this amazing chef from Food Network’s hit TV show, Chopped?! Did you know that he also has over 13 restaurants around the world and has authored 8 books, ranging from cookbooks to memoirs?

In his most recent book, in The Rise, Samuelsson “gathers together an unforgettable feast of food, culture, and history to highlight the diverse deliciousness of Black cooking today.” According to Samuelsson, he was driven “by a desire to fight against bias, reclaim Black culinary traditions, and energize a new generation of cooks, Marcus shares his own journey alongside 150 recipes in honor of dozens of top chefs, writers, and activists—with stories exploring their creativity and influence.”

You can read more about his work here


Carla Hall’s Soul Food: Everyday and Celebration


Jerrelle Guy‘s Black Girl Baking: Wholesome Recipes Inspired by a Soulful Upbringing


Toni Tipton-Martin’s Jubilee: Recipes from Two Centuries of African American Cooking: A Cookbook


Bryant Terry’s Afro-Vegan : Farm-Fresh African, Caribbean, and Southern Flavors Remixed



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