Kysha Harris photo (302663)

It is our pande-versary. Rest in peace to the over 550,000 people lost thus far. Their spirits will be remembered forever.

I hope everyone is doing well, continuing to stay safe, wearing a mask (if not two) and remaining grateful to all of our frontline workers, health professionals and, thankfully, our community organizations now facilitating vaccinations. I see a little light coming into view.

I am so excited by the AmNewsFOOD writing team we are building. Chef Eileen Barett and Malene Younglao’s first pieces are the perfect appetizer to what we are creating. There will be more talented voices bringing their words to the page too.

Meanwhile, I have been doing it to it over at The Spruce Eats, recently producing our Black History Month programming. It included editorial, social, homepage, commerce and a live cooking demo by a Top Chef. It was a rewarding opportunity to bring friends and colleagues together and highlight their brilliance.

For editorial, I worked with two Harlem chefs, Adrienne Cheatham and Alexander Smalls. Chef Smalls wrote deftly and whimsically about the battle between Southern food and soul food entitled “Soul Food: Pride & Prejudice.” Chef Cheatham’s piece “Fusion Foods of the African Diaspora Defining American Cuisine” is a fascinating journey reflecting her upbringing in Chicago and Mississippi and the foods that define it.

This Black History Month food editorial lineup would not be complete without including both the father of American cuisine and today’s organization moving the needle of Black people in food forward. Thank you to Tonya Hopkins of the James Hemings Society for her piece, “James Hemings: America’s First Chef” and Therese Nelson for her words in “Black Food Folks: Community Matters” and their importance to our food culture.

To round out this editorial line up I invited Lashana Daniels, founder of For the Cocktail Culture, to create one of their signature “cocktales,” where they highlight prominent figures in Black his(her)story through a cocktail, to create one for the founder of Black History Month, Mr. Carter G. Woodson. Together with her colleague, Heather Wibbles, they created the Woodson’s Confidence Cocktale using Uncle Nearest whiskey (the man responsible for teaching Jack Daniels how to make whiskey) and other ingredients reflecting his illustrious career.

Thank you to Black Food Folks for the two-week takeover and other contributors too of The Spruce Eats’ Instagram account. It was wonderful to see the diversity of who we are in food.

The culmination of the month came by way of the first simultaneous demo on Zoom (internal for Dotdash employees) and Instagram Live (for the public) by Chef Adrienne Cheatham. She selected a handful of craft products of Black makers from former Harlem resident Joseph Riley and his business, Rileyland Collection, as a springboard for the dish she demonstrated.

For the demo, internal participants were sent a box that included fonio from Yolélé Foods (Chef Pierre Thiam of Teranga), Slim & Husky’s peach mustard, and Kitchens of Africa’s maffé peanut simmer sauce (still available for purchase on Together, and with Chef Cheatham’s shopping list, we created this peach mustard glazed salmon over aromatic fonio and spicy broiled broccoli and celery (yes, celery…so good!) and a unique moment of transparency and joy for what we in food publishing care most about, telling stories through food.

There are few moments in a career when you feel like you are doing what you are meant to and firing on all cylinders. This was one of them for me. Thank you to my team at The Spruce Eats and to everyone who elevated and participated in my plan. You are seen, heard and appreciated.

Happy eating, stay safe, wear a mask and thanks for reading!

Kysha Harris is a food writer and editor, culinary producer, consultant and owner of SCHOP!, a personalized food service in NYC for over 18 years. She is the new Food Editor at Follow her on Twitter and Instagram, @SCHOPnyc, on Facebook, /SCHOPnyc.

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