Dear CCKC Friends,
I recently had the honor of judging a Soul Food Cook-Off for the Ebenezer AME Church here in Kansas City. Black-eyed Peas, Mustard Chicken, Green Rice, Corn Bread, Sweet Potato Pie, Banana Pudding and so many more truly soulful dishes cooked with so much love by gracious souls using time-tested family recipes that have long united communities of people around their tables. Each participant had to stand and present their dish and explain why it was considered “Soul Food.”
As they presented I found myself deeply moved by the passion and pride they brought with their dishes. I walked in thinking that Soul Food was “food traditionally eaten by southern African Americans” but I quickly discovered that it was so much more. Soul Food is unmistakenly “food FOR the soul.” Yes, it is based in an ethnic culture and yes, there are some well-known dishes. but believe me folks, I heard over and over that these dishes were prepared because their families and friends always ask them to bring this dish, or their grandpa always prepared this dish for special events or just that the dish “fills the souls” of those who gather to eat it. When I stood in the gym of the Brush Creek Community Center to announce the winners, I was met with the soulful and anxious eyes of seasoned cooks who I realized have in their hands the job .. no, the duty … of continuing their cultural legacy. I begged them to write down these recipes and share them with their families TODAY so that nothing is lost to the melting pot of cultures and the fusion of foods that is happening all around us. (Not that those things are bad mind you.)
As hugs were exchanged and cooking questions posed, I was reminded of my own German heritage and the reasons that I started The Culinary Center of Kansas City. I saw my own family’s culinary heritage being diluted over time as family members passed away or moved to the far ends of the earth to pursue their own lives. I felt compelled to create a space and environment where skills and recipes could be shared but more importantly where every single person could have the opportunity to know that real life happens around the table and contributes in large part to who we are and who we will become in this journey of our lives. I challenge you to dig out those handwritten recipes from your Great Aunt Billie or Nana or Granpa Louis and scan them into your computer. Write down why they are important to you and PASS THEM ON TO YOUR FAMILY. Hey, wouldn’t that make a great (no-cost) gift that money could never buy?
We hope you will join us in our kitchens as we explore cooking, food and what happens when people gather in a kitchen and around a table. It is our mission to provide you the highest quality experiences in the culinary arts each and every time you visit.
Pass It On,
(“The Main Dish”)