Cultural Passport: African Diasporan Cuisine by Black Chefs

By Troy Belle, Library Technical Assistant
June 9, 2020
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture

As shelter in place continues in New York City, I find myself trying to come up with more creative ways to cook for my family and also help our bodies release endorphins in these challenging times. My search led me to check out this collection of books by six Black chefs, including an inspiring memoir, three vegan cookbooks and one Caribbean cookbook to give some new inspiration and healthy culinary tips. 

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Afro-Vegan: Farm-Fresh African, Caribbean & Southern Flavors Remixed by Bryant Terry

If you’re vegan or looking for some new recipes, try out this cookbook written by Bryant Terry. Afro-Vegan will take you on a journey, tasting and savoring the delicious flavors of the African diaspora from continental Africa to the Caribbean and America. Through Afro-Vegan Terry’s mission is larger than just enjoying this delightful food. The introduction chapter of seeks to acknowledge marginalized African cooking traditions. It also aims to encourage people of color to eat healthier foods thus reducing the impact of diseases such as hypertension, diabetes and heart disease that we see occurring in people of color at disproportionate numbers. Afro-Vegan is more than just a cookbook it also serves as a positive affirmation in the way we think about eating healthy.

“Afro-Vegan animates the cuisine of the African diaspora with the detail, reverence, and passion it deserves. Bryant elevates our often-overlooked culinary traditions and infuses a personal, smart, and practical love. He goes beyond teaching us to cook. He inspires us to celebrate and explore.” —Dayo Olopade, author of The Bright Continent: Breaking Rules and Making Change in Modern Africa

“I’m a big fan of food. I’m also a fan of stories. What Bryant Terry has done with Afro-Vegan is tell a new and important story of food. He’s connected health with history and culture and made the combination delicious. As important, he’s encouraging all of us to learn the story of the food we make and consume and helping us generate our own stories as we share these healthy eats with the communities we love.” —Baratunde Thurston, best-selling author of How to Be Black and CEO and cofounder of Cultivated Wit.

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Notes from a Young Black Chef: A Memoir by Kwame Onwuachi

Notes from a Young Black Chef shares the story of Kwame Onwuachi’s life and journey to success.

“The Top Chef star traces his culinary coming-of-age in both the Bronx and Nigeria, discussing his eclectic training in acclaimed restaurants while sharing insights into the racial barriers that have challenged his career.” —NPR

“Onwuachi’s memoir should be required reading, not just for future chefs, but for anyone who wants a glimpse into one man’s tale of what it’s like to be young, Black and ambitious in America.” —The Washington Post

“A fascinating book. . . . I hope everybody reads it.” —Trevor Noah

“Kwame Onwuachi’s story shines a light on food and culture not just in American restaurants or African American communities but around the world.” —Questlove

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By Any Greens Necessary: A Revolutionary Guide for Black Women Who Want to Eat Great, Get Healthy, Lose Weight, and Look Phat by Tracye Lynn McQuirter

In By Any Greens Necessary author Tracye Lynn McQuirter not only provides vegan recipes from appetizers to desserts and all the dishes in between. She also describes how her journey to healthy living was inspired by her mother’s healthy lifestyle as well as listening to Dick Gregory her sophomore year at Amherst College changed how she thought about eating. During his lecture she learned that Mr. Gregory was a vegetarian and about the pipeline of how a burger gets to your plate.

“If there's one health book Black women should read this year, this is it. By Any Greens Necessary shows us the real deal about how to eat well and get healthy for life" — Tonya Lewis Lee, writer, producer, activist, and author, Gotham Diaries

"A fascinating read." —The Root

“Finally, a down-to-earth look at plant-based diets for the Black community. [This book] will empower even the most staunch omnivore to re-evaluate their food choices and move towards a healthier outlook, not just for themselves, but for the planet." — Melissa Danielle, coordinator, Black Vegetarian Society of New York ( and Wellness Communicator (

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Ageless Vegan: The Secret to Living a Long and Healthy Plant-Based Life by Tracye Lynn McQuirter and Mary McQuirter

Ageless Vegan explores a thirty-one year mother (Mary McQuirter) and daughter (Tracye Lynn McQuirter) on their journey of becoming vegans and being healthy together. The mother and daughter team also provide 100 plant-based recipes as well as principles they have learned along their journey on eating for health and longevity. 

"Ageless Vegan is a powerful argument for the ways food is political. It also makes a strong aesthetic case for veganism." —The Huffington Post

"A standout collection of recipes...with its appetizing flavor variations, this approachable cookbook raises the standard of plant-based cuisine." —Library Journal


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Original Flava: Caribbean Recipes from Home by Craig and Shaun McAnuff

I came across  Original Flava written by London-based brothers Craig and Shaun McAnuff. The dishes are primarily focused on a Jamacian style of cooking and it doesn't  disappoint. As a complement to their cookbook, the brothers’ have a quarantine meals episode on their YouTube channel which is a simple, timely and very wholesome Caribbean dish of green banana, mackerel and dumplings.

Cultural Passport is a blog series about books covering the Black Diaspora exploring culture, cooking, dance, sports and spirituality. This series is written and curated by Troy Belle and Diana Tan.