Michael Twitty Addresses Racial Inequality in the Southern Kitchen

African American culinary historian Michael Twitty discusses his open letter to lauded white southern chef Sean Brock, and the racial inequalities in the Charleston restaurant scene.

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Jun 7 2016, 5:00pm

I first heard about African American culinary historian Michael Twitty in the wake of Paula Deen's dismissal from the Food Network, when he wrote her an open letter addressing her racial slurs against her black employees. In May 2014, I flew down to North Carolina to write about his dinners in which he dressed in Antebellum period attire as a slave, recreating historically accurate meals to educate guests about the roles that enslaved cooks had in shaping Southern American cuisine.

He referred to this project as the Southern Discomfort Tour.

READ MORE: Mouth Full of South

Since then, Twitty has been very busy working on a new book called The Cooking Gene, which traces his culinary roots in the South by tracking his genetic history to locate lost family members and discover surprising truths about his identity and the history of Southern food.

I caught up with him on the latest episode of MUNCHIES: The Podcast two months ago on the heels of Twitty releasing an open letter to lauded white Southern chef Sean Brock, which addressed the racial tensions in the Charleston food scene. In a city that's exploding with restaurants rooted in African American culinary pathways, we discussed why he thinks that this isn't shifting for the better.

Tune in to hear Twitty's thoughts on how to make a positive difference across racial lines in the kitchen. So go ahead download the podcast, and tell your friends to do the same. And if you haven't done so already, subscribe to MUNCHIES: The Podcast on iTunes and Soundcloudif you feel like it. Check back in two weeks for the next episode, when I speak to the award-winning chefs behind Austin's hottest restaurant, Olamaie.