The two services have announced The Great Soul Food Cook-Off as a new series coming to Discovery+ Nov. 20 with new episodes each Saturday through Dec. 18. The series is billed as the “first-of-its-kind soul food cooking competition series celebrating Black chefs and the Black culinary traditions that are the cornerstone of American cuisine.” If you were a fan of Netflix’s High on the Hog, which celebrated African traditions that provided the basis for African-American and Caribbean cuisine, The Great Soul Food Cook-Off might be right up your alley.
“Today, we see Black culture recognized like never before in music, film, fashion, TV, sports, and more, but that same cultural recognition remains long overdue in the kitchen,” according to the two platforms in a statement. “OWN has partnered with discovery+ via the original series, The Great Soul Food Cook-Off, in a cooking competition that finally spotlights the culinary contributions of Black chefs with challenges designed to highlight the past and present of soul food.”
Hosted by chef and television host Kardea Brown and judged by chefs Eric Adjepong and Melba Wilson, eight chefs will compete in a competition described as “high-stakes, spiritual, and emotional.” The winner of the season will be awarded the grand prize of $50,000.
Other guest judges this season include acclaimed soul food chefs Tanya Holland, Alexander Smalls, BJ Dennis, Tiffany Derry, Millie Peartree and Kwame Onwuachi. The Cooking Gene author and cultural and culinary historian Michael W. Twitty will serve as the series’ historian and consultant. The contestants are chefs and caterers from across the country, as listed below:
Chris Scott, 53 (Chef/Owner, Butterfunk Biscuit Co. – Harlem, NY)
Dorian Hunter, 47 (Chef/Caterer, Elevated Soul – Atlanta, GA)
Fred Fluellen, 32 (Private Chef/Caterer, Fluniversity – Atlanta, GA)
Jamarius Banks, 28 (Private Chef – Atlanta, GA)
Jermaine Smith, 48 (Chef/Owner, Henry’s Soul Cafe – Washington, D.C.)
Razia Sabour, 40 (Private Chef/Caterer, Fuller Foods – Atlanta, GA)
Shacafrica Simmons, 47 (Private Chef/Caterer, Southern Fusion – Tallahassee, FL)
Tirzah Love, 38 (Private Chef/Caterer, Saturday w/ Tirzah Supper Club – Oakland, CA)
The premiere will start with a staple in soul food–the “meat and three” dish. According to the official description:
The competition premieres with a Soul Starter Challenge paying homage to the foundational “meat and three,” a meal featuring a portion of meat and three sides that are African American community must-haves. In this first challenge, “The Great Soul Food Cook-Off” chefs form teams and are challenged to a Meat N’ Three Knockout, preparing smothered pork chops, macaroni and cheese, collard greens, and a potato salad. The winning team then holds an advantage going into the main Cook-Off Challenge, where the chefs create innovative dishes with staple ingredients. So who will dig the deepest and draw inspiration from their ancestors to win, and who is going home?
“Soul food originated in the earliest African American communities and describes a style of cuisine that represents the creativity and skill of Black cooks from many cultures within the African diaspora,” OWN president Tina Perry said in a statement. “Our audience cherishes time together as a family around the table and many have passed down favorite family recipes for generations. This series is a celebration of long-standing traditions we hope to introduce and spotlight for new and existing viewers as we shine a light on a few of today’s most talented Black chefs and culinary curators.”
Watch the trailer below and check out images