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View this online | August 30, 2022
Hey Cousins -

Can ya'll believe Summer is almost over??! We can't either! 

While we're sad to see it go, we're glad not to having these high electricity bills because we got to run our AC all day. It's hot!

Speaking of hot, we got some heat for you in this week's newsletter. We want to shout out our moms and the quotes that they seared into our memories as a kid, talk about Black chefs out here doing the damn thang and the gentrification of Black food. 

Hit our inbox and let us know what you think of this week's letter.

The Cookout Family 

10 Sayings Black Moms Have in the Kitchen

Growing up Black is a completely different experience. We have a different swag, a different culture, and a TON of unique household phrases. If you grew up like we did, you probably heard somebody talk about how you “smelled like outside”, or got told “we got food at home” when you asked to stop by the golden arches after school. Ya cousins couldn’t even get a happy meal y’all.  But looking back, these moments definitely make us laugh. And we can think of so many more Black mom -isms when it comes to our behavior in the house. Especially in that kitchen!
With food being such an important part of how we relate to each other both in and out of the home, let’s take a look at 10 iconic sayings that we heard our Black moms use growing up in the kitchen. 

Don't go scratching up my good pan
This is a cardinal sin! Baby put the fork away and grab a proper stirring tool. Trust us, we are trying to save your life. Them non-stick pans are serious business.
Wash them dishes in the sink
If it’s one thing that big mama hates its dirty dishes piled up in the sink. This is her domain y’all, so her standard is the only one that matters. We know you were gonna circle back and get it later, but just get it now and keep the peace.
This kitchen is now closed
Listen, if that range hood light is on it’s a wrap. And on a school night? Forget about it. In her mind, you belong in the bed. You’ve had dinner now don’t go creeping around for snacks at all hours in the dark. And don’t go making a mess doing it either.
Close my refrigerator
Honestly, we still don’t get this one. Something about letting all the cold air out?
Did you wash your hands?
“Cleanliness is next to Godliness”, our Southern cousins know exactly what we mean. Coming around the table or reaching on the counter with dirty hands? From OUTSIDE?? It’s an automatic no.
Turn that heat down!
This one is for our independent cooks and kitchen sous-chefs. As soon as you think you doing something, she thinking you about to burn the place down. Mama we got it!
Clean as you go
A helpful tip really.
Make sure you let that pan soak
For all of those stuck on messes, soaking is the key. The warm water just has a way of loosening all that grease and grime so that the dish can have a proper wash later. (And between us, we used this excuse way too often when we didn’t feel like cleaning dishes right away) “It’s soaking Mama!”
Come taste this and tell me what it needs
Music to our ears! Getting to taste the food before dinner time AND offering her an opinion in her own domain? Cousins we made it.
Thaw that meat out for when I get back
A huge responsibility. Simple, as long as you don’t forget to do it. If you did forget? Lord have mercy on us all.

How Gregory Gourdet Is Transforming Food Through Education

If you’ve seen season 12 of Bravo’s hit cooking show Top Chef, then you know all about that season’s talented Haitian-American finalist Gregory Gourdet. But in case you’re unaware of the James Beard Award winning chef, we got you. Gregory Gourdet is a trailblazing and critically acclaimed culinary creator who is bringing Haititan cuisine into the American spotlight. With the launch of his first restaurant, Kann, Gourdet is showcasing traditional Haitian and Caribbean meals, providing relevant cultural education, and forging a path that promotes inclusivity, accountability, and tradition.
Gourdet opened Kann to tell a story that goes beyond food. His mission is to enlighten Americans about Haiti’s rich history beyond the depictions that we often see in the media. Shoot, he even shared some signature Haitian dishes with Oprah over the holidays y’all. Talk about positive media spin! Gourdet knows that “there aren’t a lot of big Haitian restaurants in a lot of communities around the country,” and says what he’s doing “is extremely important because of that.”
Gourdet’s mission speaks to the necessity of Black chefs and the food industry’s responsiblility to invest in them. It will always be important that our community is knowledgeable of our rich and varied history, and that we place emphasis on the way that we have shaped, and continue to shape, American culture and cuisine.
Two other chefs that share these beliefs are Chef Kwame Onwuachi, a fellow James Beard Award-winner, who’s restaurant paying homage to Afro-Caribbean cuisine “through a New York lens” opens this fall, and Nina Compton. Compton is a James Beard Award-winning chef as well and owns two New Orleans restaurants. The inspiration for her cuisine is drawn heavily from her Caribbean roots in combination with New Orleans’ signature flavor profiles.
Whether you’re in Oregon, New York, or Louisiana this season, definitely pop in on Gourdet, Onwuachi, and Compton. Don’t wait until the last minute to book your reservation cousins ‘cause these spots stay booked! As they should. Tell them that your cousins at The Cookout sent you. You won’t be disappointed.


The Gentrification of Black Food

The phrase and connotation behind the words “high value” has become a hot button topic in today’s culture. Whether it be in retail or relationships, it seems that everything is becoming something to commodify. Now we’re not saying that we agree with every conversation circulating the blogs, but in the “high value” age, what really is worth the title? And who should be able to decide who/what earns it? This concept got us thinking. In the food industry, who is deciding what “high value” looks like? Is it the critics? The people? Or some mix of both?
In analyzing the systems that determine the importance, and reverence, of a particular restaurant or cuisine style, it is paramount to the integrity of that system that all cultures be considered equally. Unfortunately, we have found (and have known) that that is not the case. It is often unlikely that traditional Black food, and other ethnic food items and eateries receive as high acclaim as their European counterparts. The Michelin Guide, one of the nation’s top food review organizations, was even criticized for this kind of bias. According to the article How Michelin Stars Are Awarded to Restaurants, “many have criticized the [Michelin] guides as being biased towards French cuisine, style, and technique, or towards a snobby, formal dining style, rather than a casual atmosphere.” To put it in layman's terms, people have noticed that restaurants that are more traditionally European receive higher ratings than those that are not. One of the attributes that Black and brown establishments typically pride themselves on the most is the ability to be authentic, homey, and down-to-earth. So its no secret that restaurants who boast a “casual atmosphere” are typically the Black, or ethnic, food places.
An even larger issue presents itself when the dishes and ingredients sold at these very establishments are co-opted to support another agenda. A whiter agenda. When considering the point at which ethnic food items become “high value” in today’s society, we must consider the effects of culinary gentrification. The gentrification of the black and brown food industries is occurring rapidly. This happens when the traditional and/or available foods present in a specific culture become popular with and marketed toward white audiences as “authentic” and “trendy”, such that the price point and consumption of those items is increased beyond the affordability of the very people who originally used them. Some examples of this are ramen, kale, hummus, tacos, and even fried chicken. All of which were essential to their respective communities well before they were introduced to whiter audiences. Today however, these items are considered more valuable in stores and are marketed and sold with white buyers in mind. And this is a practice that is implemented at every level; quite literally from farm to table.
Here at The Cookout, we shed light on these issues because cousins, it’s real out here and we are tired of our people being stolen from and overlooked. With that, we encourage you to take a stand. Support your local Black-owned food businesses by taking the extra time to leave those ratings and reviews. We have the power to decide what high value looks like. Let’s use it!

Let That Boy Cook

Man, ya'll know the internet is a wild place filled with some even wilder opinions. There ain't no place on Al Gore's internet where the latter is more true than on social media. That was proven this again this week.

What Happened?

Social media fingers were going crazy this week after parents started sharing pictures of their sons playing with kitchen sets made popular by YouTube star, toy influencer and literal child (and definitely the richest 10-year-old ever) Ryan Kaji. What was the issue though? These backwards folks think that boys playing with kitchen sets makes them "gay" and "less manly". Nah, for real. Some of the comments on Twitter included:

  • “DO NOT buy your son a kitchen set for Christmas… get him a tool set… don’t put the wrong ideals in ya son head at an early age.”
  • "If y’all buy y’all son a kitchen set pls keep him away from mine…idc idc that shit ain’t right & y’all dead ass wrong for trynna ride a wave like it it is. Grills sets are for boys & kitchen sets are for girls"

Stop The B.S.

Let us be clear here, cousins: cooking doesn't have a gender. Cooking does not have a sexuality. Cooking is love. Cooking is culture. Cooking is art. Cooking is comfort. But cooking is damn sure not whatever it is that these folks are trying to project onto boys who like to cook. If you're lucky enough to have a child that loves to cook, please nurture that passion that they have.

The Cookout, the very publication you're reading now, was cofounded by Chef JJ, a man who learned how to cook from the women in his life, honed that craft and turned it into a successful business.

In a world that already treats Black men and boys with little regard and offers them even fewer outlets for expression, we need to stamp this BS out at the jump. This week began with the announcement of the death Virgil Abloh, one of the most brilliant minds that the world of art and fashion has ever seen. Could you imagine if someone had told him "fashion isn't for men" and he listened to that? Do you know the brilliance we would have never had the opportunity to witness?

How many little Black boys and men have had their dreams extinguished because of someone else's idea of manhood? We got geniuses and creative prodigies in our community and we need to stop folks from trying to gatekeep man hood and let these boys cook.

We See You, Chef!

Man we love celebrating Black excellence all that it yields. With that said, we wanted to give a big shout out to the co founder of The Cookout, Chef JJ. 

This week it was announced that Chef JJ's NY-based fast casual restaurant, Field Trip, has secured funding to open an additional 6-8 locations of its popular eatery where rice is the star of the show.

Since opening in Harlem, NY in 2019, Field Trip has expanded its foot print to the famous Rockefeller Center and Long Island City. In addition to new restaurants, Chef JJ also plans to launch a line of packaged sauces in stores next year. 

We at The Cookout are over here cheering on Chef JJ like a bunch of relatives at a college graduation. Dass our people! 

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