We Learned Why Soul Food Is Still Important To Our Black Culture


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Who doesn’t love a Sunday soul food session? We all love to indulge in fried catfish, fried chicken, and waffles, with a bellini on the side on Sundays. Don’t ask me how I know. 

This Sunday, I, the Lifestyle Editor at ESSENCE and founders of Cornbread Soul, Adenah Bayoh and Elzadie “Zadie” Smith, served up some fried catfish and grits as part of our demonstration at the Food And Wine Festival Experience today. Cornbread Soul was founded in 2017 in Maplewood, New Jersey. They are a fast-casual farm-to-table restaurant focusing on authentic savory soul food and innovative technology to provide a unique and family-friendly dining experience. They also have all of their ingredients from local farmers and shops. Although they specialize in cornbread, other tasty dishes are on their menu, such as chicken and waffles, po’boys, and peach cobbler. 

EFOC: We Learned Why Soul Food Is Important To Our Black Culture During The Cornbread Farm To Soul Demonstration
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – JULY 07: (L-R) Dominique Fluker, Adenah Bayoh and Elzadie “Zadie” Smith speak during the 2024 ESSENCE Festival Of Culture™ Presented By Coca-Cola® at Ernest N. Morial Convention Center on July 07, 2024 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images for ESSENCE)

During today’s demo, we learned how to properly prepare catfish from Smith and make her famous five-minute grits while she shared her relationship with grits. “Well, let me tell you about grits. When I was growing up, we didn’t like eggs, so my mom always tried to get us to eat eggs. So, then she discovered yellow grits. Then she started putting an egg in the white grits so we could eat them. Grits bring back my fondest memories,” she reflected. 

Smith also believes that soul food is rooted in tradition and, unfortunately, is a dying art. She wants us to continue cooking soul food again to preserve the traditions, memories, and love. “What’s happened to our food today is that we are losing our recipes and heritage, which we must pass on,” Smith stated. Bayou continued, “To piggyback off of what Ms. Zadie said, when we started on the journey of Cornbread Farm to Soul, our goal was to fulfill a national concept of chain restaurants by us and for us. Why doesn’t our community have a national soul food chain?” 

What’s clear is that Cornbread Farm to Soul is on a mission to revolutionize the soul food space by bringing accessible, delicious, and affordable food to our people and beyond.



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