Food, Community & Government

Meet Your Instructor

Michael W. Twitty

Lesson time 06:16 min

Two-time James Beard award–winning author Michael W. Twitty introduces his book The Cooking Gene, the importance of preserving and promoting family food history, and why everyone should tell their food story.

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MICHAEL TWITTY: When you look back at your past experiences with the food-- maybe you are at the dinner table or in the kitchen-- the memories, the dishes, the individuals you shared them with, their stories, the foods-- here lies a wealth of information about your history and culture ready to uncover. So food is the vehicle. Food is the lens. Food is the opportunity. And it's something that we engage with every day that speaks volumes about where we come from, what stories we have to tell, and why we're here. - Finally tonight, one man's journey into his own personal history and into the roots and history of American cooking and cuisine. MALE SPEAKER: Twitty is a culinary historian who explores the complicated story of race, culture, and food. - Everybody has his deep connections to gastronomy in their personal, familial lives. And our story is told through our plates. I made this vow to uncover and amplify the stories of my African ancestors through food. So I've dedicated my life to tracing my family roots by way of the food I've been exposed to. Food is memory. And this is my way of preserving my ancestors' legacy for the next generation. My name is Michael W. Twitty. I'm a culinary historian, historic interpreter, and the James Beard Award-winning author of "The Cooking Gene." I want to teach this class because I want to give you an introduction to the African-American vision of food and culture that you've never been exposed to, a culture that's vibrant, that's exciting, but also very serious and based in a history that involves healing and memory. Some of you may have heard of my work, "The Cooking Gene." It's a journey through my family history and a journey through the Old South, looking for the roots of soul foods, the foodscapes of soul food, and where we come from. I really wanted people to understand that culinary journey, the food journey, of African-Americans in a way that would ennoble us and ennoble our ancestors and give our children and our descendants something to be proud of and a clear vision of where they come from and the legacy they have to live up to. After fighting and struggling to get this book into the world, it eventually won two James Beard Awards in 2018, one for best writing and one for book of the year, making me one of the first Black American authors in the history of James Beard to do so. In this class, I want to share with you my process for connecting with my ancestors through food. You know I'm going to eat this right in front of y'all, right? I'm no shame in my game. I want to give you a deep understanding of African-American food ways. But I also want you to go out and trace the food ways of your own culture and tell that story. By walking you through my journey and tracing my family food ways, I hope to help you uncover your own food roots and develop a deeper connection to your own ancestors. Just so you know, what this class is n...

About the Instructor

Through years of unearthing his African American heritage, bestselling author of The Cooking Gene Michael W. Twitty discovered undeniable ties between his ancestors’ past and his own palate. Now he’s teaching how you can get a taste of your family history through food. Explore the migrations that informed the ingredients in your kitchen—then re-create the dishes that helped shape who you are.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

Michael W. Twitty

James Beard Award–winning author of The Cooking Gene teaches how to trace your culinary roots through the food your ancestors ate.

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