Talenti Culinary Heroes
As a brand that sources inspiration from the culinary world, Talenti is committed to supporting diverse culinary creators and celebrating their heritage, culture and contributions to their communities.
That is why Talenti is teaming up with Black Food Folks to recognize four Black chefs who are making a difference in the culinary world and their local communities as a continuation of their ongoing partnership over the last 3 years. This year, Talenti is recognizing a new group of trailblazing creators during July’s National Culinary Arts Month, providing grants to support these talented creators, amplify their voices, and highlight the impact they are bringing to communities across the country.
This year, Talenti is honoring its Culinary Creator Hero, Maya-Camille Broussard, a native of Chicago’s South Side and founder of Justice of the Pies. The three Culinary Creator Honorees include: Jasmine Macon from Charlotte, NC, Felicia Mayden, executive pastry chef at The Emily Hotel in Chicago, and Ashleigh Pearson, of La Petite Soeur in Washington D.C.
Talenti will also release a limited-edition Tasting Menu crafted by our Culinary Creators that will include delicious treats made by Jasmine, Felicia, and Ashleigh, using their favorite Talenti Gelato. The limited-edition treats can be found at the creators’ locations from July 18th - August 14th.
Check out the full list of Culinary Creators below!
2022 GRANT RECIPIENTS
Maya-Camille Broussard – Justice of the Pies
About: Chef Maya-Camille Broussard is a creative entrepreneur, author, one of the stars of the hit Netflix show Bake Squad, and the owner of Justice of the Pies, a Chicago-based bakery that specializes in sweet and savory pies, quiches, and tarts. Formed as an L3C, Justice of the Pies combats food apartheid through social-mission-driven initiatives, such as the I KNEAD LOVE Workshop, a one-day culturally enriching workshop with elementary-aged children who reside in food-insecure, lower-income communities. The children learn basic cooking skills, healthy eating habits, nutritional development, and practice exercising their creativity in the kitchen. A proud member of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community and a member of the PWD (Person with Disability) community, Broussard uses her platform to advocate for accessibility. Broussard has been profiled in national and local publications, including the Chicago Tribune, Food & Wine, and Esquire, and has been featured on television shows such as the TODAY show. In the summer of 2019, Mastercard and Square Zero Films produced a short film on Broussard and Justice of the Pies as part of "FIVE," a collection of documentary short films following five women entrepreneurs from five countries, which debuted on Shorty TV on March 8, 2021, in conjunction with International Women's Day. Chef Maya-Camille is a 2022 Finalist for a James Beard Award in the Outstanding Baker category. Her book, Justice of the Pies: Sweet and Savory Pies, Quiches and Tarts + Inspirational Stories from Exception People (Clarkson Potter) will be released in the fall of 2022. A Chicago native, Broussard is an alum of Howard University (B.F.A.) and Northwestern University (M.A.).
Location: Chicago, IL
Ashleigh Pearson – Petite Soeur
About: Petite Soeur is a specialty chocolate and confection business based in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington D.C. Petite Soeur specializes in bonbons, confections, sablé cookies, and nostalgic treats. Our creations are rooted in quality ingredients and French technique but inspired by American traditions. Petite Soeur was created by Pastry Chef Ashleigh Pearson after over 12 years in the restaurant industry. Serving the clients of Marcel’s in DC and Per Se in New York allowed her to understand what brings true joy through the medium of chocolate and pastry. With a pastry diploma from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris she now focuses on bringing a french sensibility with a modern twist to each customer that enjoys her creations.
Location: Georgetown, D.C.
Felicia Mayden – The Emily Hotel
About: Pastry Chef Felicia Mayden discovered her love for pastry arts early on while baking with her aunt as a child. Thanks to an influential high school advisor who encouraged her to follow this passion, Mayden enrolled at Chicago's Kendall College where she received her Baking and Pastry degree in 2010 and a Hospitality Management degree in 2012. After beginning her professional career as a pastry cook at the former West Loop French restaurant Nellcôte, she quickly found a mentor in award-winning pastry Chef Sarah Jordan while working under her at Chef Giuseppe Tentori’s American seafood concept, GT Fish & Oyster, and later at the Venetian-inspired restaurant Cicchetti. Following her time with Chef Jordan, Mayden continued developing her skills in several kitchens throughout Chicago, including Footman Hospitality’s former vintage cocktail bar The Betty and Land & Sea’s Cherry Circle Room at The Chicago Athletic Association Hotels later becoming the pastry chef at B. Hospitality Co., creating pastries for multiple concepts including Formento’s, Nonna’s, and The Bristol. Now in 2022, Executive Pastry Chef Mayden works alongside Executive Chef Matt Danko, helming the pastry program for the Emily hotel’s all-day coffee bar while creating a rotating dessert menu for all outlets. Mayden presents a diverse menu of sweet treats, including various laminated pastries, breads, cookies, candies, and bars. She also showcased her skills as a contestant on the 2021 season of the Food Network’s hit show Best Baker in America. As a Chicago-native and single parent, Chef Mayden’s drive is to succeed in a competitive industry is fueled by her desire to be a role model for her young son and other working single moms.
Location: Chicago, IL
Jasmine Macon – Leah & Louis
About: Jasmine Macon or better known as Confections of a Martian on social media. Is a native of Thomasville, NC and pastry graduated from Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte, NC. This alien persona was created in college and has followed her into her baking and pastry career. Confections of a Martian was a way to document and reflect upon all the contributing factors of her pastry journey. Her growth, passion, and dedication has now landed her an opportunity to take her favorite pastry… DONUTS, and open Charlotte’s newest dessert obsession late Summer or early Fall of 2022. Until then she is hosting a new number of pop ups with a local coffee shop to get people acquainted with her Beyond Amazing Donuts. As the former Pastry Chef of Leah and Louise, she plans to adopt some of the teachings she acquired there. Such as developing and maintaining relationships with local purveyors and eliminating waste by utilizing all nooks and crannies. As Chef Jasmine’s career advances, she hopes to challenge and define what the flavor profile of what a donut could be. While continuing to fall deeper in love with her craft, hoping to inspire the next quirky black girl to wholeheartedly accept her imperfections. It's not so bad after all.
Location: Charlotte, NC
2021 GRANT RECIPIENTS
Byron Bradley and David Hargrove – 2 Brothers 1 Love LLC
About: 2Brothers1Love offers nutritious simple meals based on contemporary Creole Cuisine. Our journey of taste starts in Louisiana goes through the Caribbean with African roots on an American palate, turning “Soul Food into Food For The Soul.” 2Brothers1Love delivers the unique energy coming from each plate that stands boldly and proud to express the diaspora of their culture via catering, private dinner events, and chef demos.
Location: New Orleans, LA
Erika Dupree Cline – Simply Erika’s Chocolate Boxes
About: Simply Erika’s is an online Chocolate company for true chocolate lovers that now can order anytime for a monthly subscription, or maybe order for a special occasion or just because. The online store has Chocolate bars, bonbons, truffle, and so many times made from Caribbena CoCoa beans. Chef Erika’s motto is: “A Day is Never Good Without Chocolate.”
Location: Jacksonville, FL
Tracye McQuinter – Author of Any Greens Necessary
About: Vegan trailblazer, award-winning public health nutritionist, and best-selling author Tracye McQuirter has spent the past 30 years teaching people how to go vegan to live a long and healthy plant-based life they love. Her work has been cited as a key factor driving the popular rise in veganism among African Americans, who are the fastest growing vegan demographic in the US. She recently launched 10,000 Black Vegan Women and has helped more than 15,000 black women and counting go vegan.
Peter and Janine Prime – Cane DC
About: A family operation, led by brother and sister, Chef Peter Prime and Jeanine Prime, Cane is all about bridging cultures through food. Its concept pays tribute to the siblings’ native Caribbean island of Trinidad and Tobago, where African, Indian, Spanish, French, and East Asian food and culture all weave deeply throughout the country’s unique history. The Cane experience - sharing roti tiffin box, sipping diverse rums from the West Indies, and limin with friends and neighbors - embodies the multiculturalism at the core of Trinidadians’ identities.
Location: Washington, D.C.
Gabrielle Carter – Tall Grass Food Box
About: Tall Grass Food Box is a platform to support and encourage the sustainability of Black farmers, by increasing their visibility and securing space for them in the local marketplace.
Location: Durham, Raleigh, Chapel Hill, Apex, NC
Kristi Brown – That Brown Girl Cooks and COMMUNION
About: At the end of the day, people gotta eat” That is the mantra of That Brown Girl Cooks! We believe that; food is nourishment, it is culture, it is community. And in that spirit, we make it our mission to connect families with healthy and sustainable food options.
About: COMMUNION is a space where spirits, food, and culture collide. Our mission is to foster a closeness that attends a sense of belonging through culinary exploration and the celebration of our community.
Location: Seattle, WA
Haile Thomas – Matcha Thomas
About: Matcha Thomas is a fast-casual, wellness teahouse serving vegan & gluten-free functional sips & sweets for the soul while offering a place for peace. We serve intentionally crafted matcha lattes, seasonally inspired boba drinks, and classic sweets with a nourishing twist! In addition, we’ve curated a premium selection of sustainably sourced, local, and organic wellness teas for wellbeing, boosting energy, and winding down. We use premium ceremonial-grade matcha grown in the region of Uji, in Kyoto prefecture, Japan hand-picked & artisan-roasted to perfection in small batches. Our teahouse is an organic, minimalist inspired space for relaxing, recharging, and encouraging mindful moments throughout your day!
Location: Beacon, NY
2020 GRANT RECIPIENTS
Charity Blanchett - Dipping Spoon Foundation (Culinary student grants)
About: Charity Blanchett is a Black Indigenous woman born and raised Alaska. In 2018 after traveling, immersing herself in new cultures, new food experiences and philanthropic events, she realized the lack of cultural and gender representation in the culinary industry for BIPOC women. This led to Blanchett to founding startup non-profit, Dipping Spoon Foundation. Their core mission is identifying and cultivating the next generation of Indigenous and Black Women-Identifying, Non-Binary, GNC, and Femme culinary youth by providing and empowering aspiring chefs with a fully paid culinary scholarship, travel, housing, mental health services, paid externships and mentorship to attend the New Orleans Culinary and Hospitality Institute. Culture and food have been at the epicenter of her entire life.
Location: New Orleans, LA
Omar Tate - Honeysuckle Project (restaurant and community center)
About: Russet and Fork alum Omar Tate launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise $250,000 to open a brick-and-mortar home for Honeysuckle Community Center. The project builds upon the wildly successful Honeysuckle pop-up dinner series he recently brought to New York, dedicated to exploring Black heritage and culture through poetry, cuisine, and music. His immersive pop-ups exploring the nuance and expanse of American blackness through poetry, food, and music were largely held in a Wall Street penthouse. Following COVID-19, he has sought to resurrect Honeysuckle in abbreviated takeout form at South Philly Barbacoa, which has been hosting pop-ups for several other black chefs in its off hours and will hopefully lead to a permanent brick and mortar location.
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Yemi Amu - Oko Farms (Urban Aquaponics Farm)
About: Yemi Amu is the Founder and Director of Oko Urban Farms, Inc. In 2013 she established NYC’s first and only publicly accessible outdoor aquaponics farm – The Oko Farms Aquaponics Education Center. She directs all of Oko Farms' programs including education, design/build projects and community related activities. Yemi is one of NYC’s leading aquaponics expert, which uses fish waste to fertilize plants grown in water, and then in turn allows the plants to filter toxins from the water so it can safely be returned to fish, and is a committed educator. Over the past decade, she has facilitated the creation and maintenance of over 20 edible spaces throughout NYC, created and implemented various culinary, nutrition and gardening programs for both youth and adults, and promotes aquaponics as a tool for environmental awareness and stewardship. The aquaponics system, which has been using the same primary body of water since 2013, now houses both fish and a variety of plants like the sorghum Amu was tending.
Location: New York, NY
Adrian Lipscombe - 40 Acres and a Mule
About: Adrian Lipscombe, chef-owner of Uptowne Café and Bakery in La Crosse, Wisconsin, noticed something unusual happening after the death of George Floyd and the resulting Black Lives Matter protests. She began receiving anonymous donations and Venmo payments from acquaintances and strangers (mostly white women, she said) including messages such as, “for your emotional labor” and sometimes without a message at all. She was unsure what to do with the money, until she had a moment of clarity the next morning: “If I’m going to accept this money, I have to do something with it,” she said. “I’m going to buy land and have it be Black-owned land.” The goal of Lipscombe’s project is to preserve and share Black agricultural traditions and foodways by purchasing land, operating a working farm and creating a “sanctuary” that serves as a space to document and preserve Black agricultural practices. She’s looking to connect with Black farmers, figure out who’s still out there, collect their traditional ways of planting and copy that on the land.
Location: La Crosse, WI
Amber Mayfield - While Entertaining Magazine
About: Amber Mayfield is a multidisciplinary event planner and dinner party enthusiast. To Be Hosted, through While Entertaining Magazine, combines her love of food, music, and the arts, to produce events that people will remember. Well known brands turn to Amber to make their events exciting and buzzworthy. Whether she is working with corporate clients or couples, Amber pours her passion into every detail, and thrives when faced with complex event logistics. In all that she does, she is celebrated for creating memorable experiences that make people feel deeply valued.
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Tahiirah Habibi – The Roots Fund
About: With a decade as a sommelier in some of the top end restaurants in Miami, Tahiirah is an accomplished wine professional yet she has struggled every step of the way to gain recognition, and to cope with the overt and covert racism that exists in the industry. She discusses her difficult experiences, including the incident that prompted her viral video describing how the Court of Master Sommeliers requires all candidates to call them “Master” and what that means to her and other black and brown people who take the exam. She founded The Roots Fund to help fund people of color on their journeys into wine professions.
Location: Atlanta, GA
Tonya and David Thomas - Muloma Heritage Center
About: In 1992, David and Tonya started a small and successful catering company for 8 years. In 2017, the Thomas’s opened Ida B’s Table, focused on sustainability and/or locally sourced products. During this time David competed in multiple Food Network competitions. He won the competition show Bite Club based in Baltimore and earned the title of Bite Club Champion. David recently won the title of Chopped Grand Champion on Food Network’s show Chopped by competing 3 times against previous champions of Chopped. David loves sharing his passion for cooking with youth through the Days of Taste program. The Muloma program helps to educate 3rd-5th graders on where their food comes from, along with helping them learn healthy eating habits. David is working on developing a high school culinary program for developing future local and sustainable chefs. David is also working on developing a cookbook. Tonya has usually covered the front of the house along with baking and desserts responsibilities while David has done the cooking. They share a common bond for the love of food, family, cultural heritage, food sustainability and forming bonds in the community.
Location: Baltimore, MD
Kurt Evans & partners - Everybody Eats and Everybody Eats Café
About: Chef artist-activist and social entrepreneur Kurt Evans born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Kurt found a culinary spark cooking southern style dishes, and has now cooked professionally for over 14 years and continues to learn innovative cooking techniques and creative recipes. He also uses his culinary skills to rally the community around ending mass incarceration. Through his EMI Dinner series, EMI brings awareness to garnering solutions for this pressing community issue. During a stint as culinary director at New York-based nonprofit Drive Change, he managed a professional training fellowship program for formerly incarcerated youth. When the program ended due to COVID-19, Evans returned to his hometown, to re-establishing a workforce development program. Down North Pizza, a fair wage, equitable workplace for all its employees who have been formerly incarcerated.
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Lauren Darnell - Mino (BOH Hospitality Training Program)
About: Lauren Darnell is a proud native of New Orleans, LA, with a deep-seated commitment to giving back to her home state and the New Orleans community. In 2013, Lauren founded Yoga Power Play, a non-profit developed to teach trauma-sensitive yoga and mindfulness to students. In 2016, Lauren began working with Son of a Saint, a New Orleans-based organization committed to fostering the growth of young, fatherless boys through mentorship, emotional support, and skill development. As Executive Director of MiNO, Lauren is focusing on supporting equitable spaces and resources for women and men of color for upward mobility in culinary industry in New Orleans.
Location: New Orleans, LA
Tiffani Rozier – Afros & Knives
About: Tiffani Rozier is the host and producer of Afros and Knives, a podcast that celebrates the brilliance and influence of Black women. She is also the founder of Set The Table Media, which provides media production services to tastemakers and creatives in the food & beverage, hospitality, beauty & wellness industries.
Observation, inspiration, and determination are my foundation for success. Introducing fresh perspectives, leading with curiosity, and better questions invite audiences to grow and evolve. As a chef working in Western culture that centers on whiteness, European cuisines, and techniques, writing and developing transformative content development has grown into my own form of activism. It is an opportunity to raise the visibility of Black excellence in American cuisine and culture. The world silences the voices of so many; it is vital to have a platform that works to undo that.
Toure Foulkes - Turning Tables (FOH Hospitality Training Program)
About: Touré Folkes is the Founder and Program Director of Turning Tables. When he returned to NYC from a year in the Dominican Republic, he began working in bars and restaurants while volunteering for a program in the South Bronx called the Power Writers (To Be Heard). This program creates a safe space and platform for at-risk and vulnerable youth in the South Bronx by embedding trained mentors into the school system. Having sparked his bartending career in NYC, Touré moved down south and continued his growth in the New Orleans bar community. Turning Tables is a new bar and spirits training program dedicated to growing a more inclusive and diverse bar community in New Orleans. It also features a mentorship program that links students with veteran bartenders who provide hands-on training in their own spots.
Location: New Orleans, LA
Kisira Hill - Support Staff (a platform for mental health assistance for Black and Brown hospitality workers)
About: Kisira Hill is an anthropologist interested in the relationships between contemporary culture and evolutionary theories of migration in academia. She looks to merge the academic and hospitality worlds through event work and creative content that bridges our contemporary understanding of the food and beverage industries with historical context and cultural critique. This has manifested in a participating in industry focused events, discussing topics from intersectionality and inclusion in hospitality spaces, ancestral trauma, the historical contributions of BIPOC peoples to the hospitality industry, and beyond.
Location: Chicago, IL