For African American culinary historian Michael W. Twitty there was a giant hole in the story of American cooking as big as the one in the story of most African American families. Putting the microscope on himself, Michael decided to fully trace his family history through the story of Southern and American food. Using genetic research, historical interpretation, nature study, heirloom gardening, and interviews with contemporary voices in food, his journey led him back to his family’s origins in West and Central Africa and a front-row seat in the debate over race and food in American life.
Michael W. Twitty is a culinary historian and food writer, of African American and Jewish descent, who blogs at Afroculinaria.com. He’s appeared on Bizarre Foods America with Andrew Zimmern, Many Rivers to Cross with Henry Louis Gates, and most recently Taste the Nation with Top Chef’s Padma Lakshmi. HarperCollins released Twitty’s The Cooking Gene, in 2017, tracing his ancestry through food from Africa to America and from slavery to freedom, a finalist for The Kirkus Prize and The Art of Eating Prize and a 3rd place winner of Barnes & Noble’s Discover New Writer’s Awards in Nonfiction.
The Cooking Gene won the 2018 James Beard Award for Best Writing as well as Book of the Year, making him the first Black author so awarded. His piece on visiting Ghana in Bon Appetit was included in Best Food Writing in 2019 and was nominated for a 2019 James Beard Award. His next book, Rice, a New York Times noted cookbook, became available through UNC Press in 2021. KosherSoul, his follow-up to The Cooking Gene, was published in August 2022 through HarperCollins and received the 2022 National Jewish Book Award. Michael has a hit spice line based on The Cooking Gene and a recent special guest appearance on Michelle Obama’s Waffles and Mochi show on Netflix. Michael can also be found on MasterClass online, where he teaches Tracing Your Roots Through Food. Michael is a National Geographic Explorer, a TED fellow, and a member of the 2022 TIME 100 Next class. He served as a historical consultant on the FX adaptation of Octavia Butler’s Kindred.
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