I had the honor of presenting the “Outstanding Baker” award at this year’s James Beard Awards at the Chicago Lyric Opera House to B.Patisserie in San Francisco. The theme was “I rise.” I wanted to honor this Maya Angelou-inspired theme the best way I knew how—with the words I used in my presentation. In order to create the script for the event, I was asked what I rise for. In my response, this is what I said:
"I rise for the countless, unrecognized black women who have come before me.
The black women who have nourished bodies and pleased palates.
The black women who have used stoves and ovens to create delicious magic.
The black women who have inspired us all with lovingly prepared food.
The black women, like my grandmothers Leona and Willie Mae, who always served others before serving themselves, often cooking for others before feeding their own families.
The women who cooked collard greens before they were trendy, made elegant layered cakes, and hearty rustic pies bursting with freshly-gathered fruit.
I rise for them, and I stand on their shoulders.
Anything is possible with passion and determination. I was a full-time practicing attorney when I fulfilled my baking dreams and won the Great American Baking Show. And while there a few things more important to me than a really flaky puff pastry, one is ensuring that diversity in our food community is represented in the media.
I want the next generation of
Queer and Straight
Little girls—and boys--
To see that there’s a place for them at the table, too."
*Note: The May 7th remarks were abridged, and the first paragraph was omitted.