Proud To Celebrate Another Pride Month! | Cooking With Jade

Proud To Celebrate Another Pride Month!

3 MINS READ
Proud To Celebrate Another Pride Month!

June is upon us…can you believe the year is already half over?! I guess time flies when you’re chasing delicious food. June is, of course, Pride Month, and as someone who supports the LGBTQ community (and who has several good friends in that community), I always look forward to this important time of reflection and celebration, as well as a chance to fly that rainbow flag! In honor of Pride Month – a tradition that began with the 1969 Stonewall Uprising here in New York City –  I wanted to highlight some LGBTQ chefs – past and present – whose work inspires me.

James Beard

I talk a lot about the James Beard Awards, which many in my industry refer to as the “Foodie Oscars.” James Andrews Beard, whom the prestigious awards are named after, was a pioneering chef, cookbook author, and television personality (before there was the Food Network, or even Julia Child, there was James Beard). He also happened to be gay. Born in 1903, Beard lived and worked in a time when coming out meant facing severe backlash. In fact, he didn’t come out publicly until the release of his revised memoir Delights and Prejudices, in 1981. As he said in the book, “By the time I was seven, I knew I was gay. I think it’s time to talk about that now.” I’m so glad he had the courage to do so.

James Beard

Dominique Crenn

If you’re at all familiar with the incredible food scene in San Francisco, you know about Dominique Crenn. And if you don’t, it’s time to get acquainted. Chef Crenn – owner of Atelier Crenn and its more casual sibling, Petit Crenn – became the first female chef in the U.S. to receive three Michelin Stars (she earned them in 2021…come on Michelin, what took y’all so long?!). Aside from being hugely influential in the sustainable foods movement, Crenn – who is currently engaged to actress Maria Bello – uses her platform to bring attention to other female and LGBTQIA+ chefs. She even organized a collaborative culinary tour called “The Women of Food,” where she prepared meals with other acclaimed female chefs. I’m still mad I missed out on those tickets…

Dominique Crenn

Anita Lo

Speaking of firsts, influential chef Anita Lo can claim another first: she was the first female chef to cook for a state dinner at the White House. In 2015 (again… should have happened a lot sooner) Lo – who is a first-generation Chinese-American – cooked a dazzling four-course meal for the Obama administration, who was hosting China’s then-president, Xi Jinping, and his wife Peng Liyuan. Lo has authored several cookbooks, made appearances on Top Chef Masters and Iron Chef America, and, for seventeen years ran Anissa–a beloved (but now shuttered) gem of a restaurant that New York foodies like myself still recall fondly.

Anita Lo

Telly Justice

Chef Telly Justice’s hip NYC eatery HAGS describes itself as a restaurant “By Queer people, for all people.” Justice – who is transgender – opened this small-but-mighty (I counted 14 seats) East Village space with her partner and sommelier Camille Lindsley in 2022. It has already earned a spot in the prestigious Michelin Guide. One of the things I love about HAGS, aside from it being an awesome neighborhood wine bar, is that they pay as much attention to vegans as omnivores. Justice even offers a vegan tasting menu–one that changes with the seasons and her creative whims, as all good tasting menus should. This is one of my go-to spots here in New York.

Telly Justice

Michael W. Twitty

Several intersecting identities inform Chef Twitty’s cooking and scholarship. Twitty – who is openly gay – is also African-American and Jewish, having converted to Judaism in his twenties. In 2010, he launched his influential blog Afroculinaria, which documents the history of African and African-American culinary traditions. His 2017 book, The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South, won James Beard Awards for Book of the Year and Best Food Writing. I’m currently reading his most recent book, Koshersoul: The Faith and Food Journey of an African American Jew. It’s a riveting memoir, with some awesome recipes to boot.

Michael Twitty

Wishing All of You a Happy Pride Month

Of course, there are so many other LGBTQIA+ chefs, food writers, and restaurateurs whose work I would love to highlight. The restaurant industry is more inclusive than it has ever been, but it still has a long way to go, as anyone who’s ever faced hiring discrimination or worked in a toxic kitchen can tell you. But don’t take my word for it: seek out diverse stories, support restaurants and cooks with ties to the Queer Community. I, for one, will be visiting HAGS in the very near future. Probably right after the Pride Parade!

If you enjoyed this article or have suggestions on how we can improve it, please leave us a comment below. Also, make sure to check out other articles I’ve created or stories I’ve written about food culture – here.


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