Chef and cookbook author Bryant Terry seeks to preserve black food stories



Like many businesses, the publishing industry was deeply affected by the racial calculation of 2020, when its overwhelming whiteness was called into question both online and behind closed doors. Now, over a year later, the results of calls for more diversity among those who decide what should be released have started to materialize.

Black author titles are hitting the market at an accelerating rate, including in the food arena, where black chefs are getting more lucrative deals for cookbook projects. Through 4 Color Books, Mr. Terry hopes not only to diversify the shelves, but also to open up avenues to get more blacks to publish.

“After the math, a lot more people have become intentional in their book purchases,” said Toni Tipton-Martin, author and journalist, and editor of Cook’s Country magazine. Ms. Tipton-Martin contributed to the anthology “Black Food” and has spent much of her career documenting the work of black cooking professionals in the United States in books like “Jubilee: Recipes From Two Centuries of African American Cooking ”.

She sees 4 Color Books as a way to increase the number of color authors who can make deals. Before receiving an offer from a publisher for his 2015 book, “The Jemima code”, Ms Tipton-Martin posted free selections of the book online to generate interest, saying it was her “only option”. The book won a James Beard Foundation Book Prize in 2016. “What that imprint says is that there will now be more room for more and more diverse voices,” she said.

Aaron Wehner, executive vice president of Crown Publishing and publisher of Clarkson Potter and Ten Speed ​​Press, said the new imprint was a natural extension of the company’s work with Mr. Terry. “Bryant’s entire career has been about successfully building and nurturing communities,” he wrote in an email. “We jumped at the chance to extend our long-standing relationship beyond her own books.”

In a way, Mr. Terry always knew that moment was coming. After writing five cookbooks highlighting vegetarian and vegan African American cuisine, including “Vegan soul cuisine”, “Afro-Vegan” and “Plant kingdom”as well as recipes inspired by the African diaspora, he often felt like he was questioning both historical and contemporary ideas about what black cooking looked like in the public imagination.

“The institution of movable slavery was complex, and it was not a monolith,” he said. “The relationship of African slaves with food and cuisine was shaped by a number of factors, including location, financial standing, and disposition of plantation owners.”


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