Michael W. Twitty is the author of the book The Cooking Gene, and the man behind African American food history blog, Afroculinaria.
He's been racking up accolades for a while, including being named one of Southern Living's “Fifty People Who Are Changing the South.” On April 27, he took home one of biggest awards of the culinary industry.
Twitty made history by becoming the first black author to win Book of the Year at the James Beard Awards!
Twitty posted the dope news on Twitter:
Just got verification, I am the first African American author to win book of the year at the James Beard Awards. I am also one of only two non cookbooks to win BOY. Wow. #jbfa pic.twitter.com/po6oYhAxbi— Michael W. Twitty (@KosherSoul) May 2, 2018
"Just got verification, I am the first African American author to win book of the year at the James Beard Awards," he tweeted. "I am also one of only two non cookbooks to win BOY. Wow."
In a recent interview with American Libraries Magazine, Twitty touched on the significance of preserving the rich food history of the African American South.
"One of the most important things to understand is that we know precious little about these amazing human beings who were denied their basic humanity because of slavery," said Twitty. "For me, the food — recipes is pushing it because they were preliterate people — but the ideas; formulas for creating food; ideas about food, taste, preferences, and aesthetics, all that culinary knowledge is critical because it provides a lens through which to view the inner lives of our ancestors, who were often so brutally dehumanized and diluted of their identities. For me, this is a way of having a glimpse into who they were and how they constructed their culture."
Twitty is also a proponent of "culinary justice," which he describes as the process by which oppressed individuals reclaim their cultural culinary knowledge from appropriation as a means of empowerment.
"The greatest form of cultural capital that an oppressed people has is how it survives its oppression," he noted. "So, for us, culinary justice means taking the ashes and ruins left behind by slavery and rising like a phoenix from them. And using food as a means to teach ourselves about where we come from, to improve our health and living standard, to build opportunities to create wealth and employment, and transform knowledge from generation to generation as we look to the future."