Meet the SAVEUR Blog Awards Finalists: 6 Powerful Pieces About Food and Culture
Essays connecting food to the larger world
The SAVEUR Blog Awards are here, and from a pool of tens of thousands of reader nominations we've selected 78 finalists in 13 categories. Now it's your turn to vote for a winner. Cast your ballot here early and often; you can vote as many times as you like by August 31st. Today: meet the finalists for our Food and Culture award.
When writing about food, it can be hard to do justice to the culture surrounding a certain dish. But our 6 Food and Culture finalists are not afraid to tackle the challenges in our society, using food as a way to interrogate a certain facet of culture and present another perspective on a powerful issue. From taking down major businesses to addressing diversity in food writing, these stories are turning our attention to the real issues.
The Blog: Brooke's blog Chocolate + Marrow features recipes that are inspired by her fried-foods upbringing in New Orleans, her vegetable-laden current life in Portland, Oregon, and the many other places she's traveled and lived, making for bold yet playful seasonal ingredient combinations. As a longtime writer, Brooke values the art of the written word, but more than anything, she just enjoys entertaining people with good stories—from the journey towards finding heritage to her topsy-turvy relationship with whiskey; from the persistent pain of loss to her peculiar childhood collection of alligator heads—all the while, tying them to the recipes she shares.
The Blogger: In an earlier life, blogger Brooke Bass was an academic and sociologist. As much fun as it was to research and teach college students about gender, relationships, and the social construction of sexuality, Brooke yearned for a creative outlet to share the food she cooked, the stories she lived, and the photos she snapped along the way. Today she's a full-time food and travel writer, photographer, and recipe developer based in Portland, Oregon, where she spends most of her leisure time throwing balls for her chocolate lab, chugging water on airplanes, and trying not to kill her tomato plants.
The Blog: Erika Council was born and raised in the south, in North Carolina to be exact. She spent a few years in Louisiana and made the trek to Georgia, like so many others, after Katrina. Growing up, she learned to wash collards in the bath tub, saw moonshine distilled in old radiators, and experienced the art of biscuit-making at the ripe old age of four. Southern soul food is her specialty with fried chicken being her best, cornbread a close second, and lima beans her mortal enemy, so you won't see those here. You will find plenty of cooking with cane syrup, marinading with bourbon and worshiping in the House of Cast Iron Skillets. And, of course, lots of biscuits.
The Blogger: In college, blogger Erika Council was hell on a hot plate and used to serve meals out of her dorm room, which earned her the nickname "Southern Soufflé." She currently resides in Atlanta, GA, and is a computer software nerd by day and an imaginary top chef on nights and weekends. Her grandmother is a southern cooking icon and owns a restaurant in North Carolina that has been open for 30 years. Everything about her, from her story to the food, is amazing. Erika is an avid hip hop fan, lover of cornbread, sweet tea and Bourbon.
The Blog: Blogger Michael W. Twitty started Afroculinaria.com to document, honor, and recreate historic African, African Diaspora and African American foodways and explore with his readers their influence and legacy. He wanted to move the discussion about food, ethnicity, and identity beyond stereotypes and racial tropes into a conversation about healing, reconciliation, and cultural pride and empowerment. He didn't want a food porn blog or a directory of how to's; rather, he wanted a site that asked "Why is our food culture important?" and "What does this mean for all people?" Afroculinaria is here to understand our cooking as both a universal and intellectual experience.
The Blogger: Michael W. Twitty is a culinary historian and food writer from the Washington D.C. area. He blogs at Afroculinaria.com. He has appeared on Bizarre Foods America with Andrew Zimmern, Many Rivers to Cross with Dr. Henry Louis Gates, and has lectured to over 300 groups. He has served as a judge for the James Beard Awards and is a fellow with the Southern Foodways Alliance and TED. Southern Living named Twitty one of "Fifty People Changing the South." HarperCollins will release Twitty's The Cooking Gene, in 2017, tracing his ancestry through from Africa to America and from slavery to freedom.
The Blog: Lottie + Doof was started in 2008 as a space to share recipes, cultural writing, and the wonders of the Midwest. Revolutions begin in the kitchen and we have a lot of work to do.
The Blogger: Tim Mazurek is a home cook, writer, feminist, and uncle. He lives and eats in Chicago.
The Blog: Bottom of the Pot began as a simple journal where blogger Naz Deravian could share her Persian inspired recipes, comfort foods of her childhood that had been passed down for generations, in order to translate and adapt them to our modern American table. But she quickly discovered that if she listened closely there were many stories, sizzling and simmering at the "bottom of the pot," yearning to be shared. The scents and spices informed the stories, and the stories informed the recipes in turn. Amazing experiences can unfold at the kitchen table. One dish and one story at a time.
The Blogger: Naz Deravian was born in Iran and grew up in Rome and Vancouver. She now lives in Los Angeles with her husband and 2 children. She loves to feed people and gather family and friends, old and new, around their crammed kitchen table. Her blog Bottom of the Pot was awarded the 2015 IACP Best Culinary Blog award. Her work has also been featured in The New York Times, and Condé Nast Traveler, among others. She is currently working on her debut cookbook (Flatiron Books, 2018). Occasionally, she steps away from her cutting board and rice pot and works as an actress.
The Blog: This Dallas-based blog is well-known for its takedowns of chocolate companies, most recently Mast Brothers, but also Noka, a chocolate company that went out of business in 2011. The reporting is extensive (to say the least), and it often brings up some pretty interesting findings.
The Blogger: Scott Craig is the blogger behind Dallas Food blog. When asked how he got into chocolate, he responded, "Dark chocolate started worming its way into my life about a decade ago--not really as a conscious decision ('Hey, I think I'll eat a lot of expensive chocolate!'), but just through gradual upgrades as I became aware of or gained access to better chocolate than I'd previously eaten."