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Food Network's Kardea Brown showcases her Gullah-Geechee roots in debut cookbook

Kardea Brown authored a new cookbook titled "The Way Home." (Sully Sullivan)
Kardea Brown authored a new cookbook titled "The Way Home." (Sully Sullivan)

Editor’s note: This segment was rebroadcast on July 10, 2023. Click here for that audio.

Kardea Brown’s debut cookbook “The Way Home” looks back at her past as a Food Network star and celebrates the food she grew up eating and the cuisine unique to the Sea Islands of Charleston. 

Brown — who has appeared on “Beat Bobby Flay,” “Farmhouse Rules,” “Spring Baking Championship” and her own show “Delicious Miss Brown” — regales timeless family recipes like macaroni and cheese, complete with her own spin.

The Sea Islands are a cluster of islands off the coast of South Carolina. During the trans-Atlantic slave trade, colonial settlers brought enslaved people to work on the land there. Affected by disease outbreaks, settlers could not stay on the islands, but the people from West Africa had developed immunity and remained on the land in virtual isolation. They maintained a strong connection to the food and culture of West Africa on the islands.

“The Way Home” by Kardea Brown cover. (Courtesy)

“Fast forward generations later, my family also are direct descendants of those enslaved people,” Brown says. “It is home to Gullah Geechee people though. That’s why it’s extremely special to me.”

Brown says she grew up watching her grandmother and her mother cook in the kitchen. And when she was finally old enough to cook with them, she already understood what to do. She says that Gullah Geechee recipes combine the freshest ingredients, from crops grown on the islands like okra and rice to seafood caught off the coast.

“Shaping a cookbook around that was so important to me because it is a part of my everyday life,” Brown says. “it is the fabric of who I am, not only as a chef, but as a person.”

Find Kardea Brown’s recipes for Southern mac and cheese, BBQ shrimp and lemon-lime soda cake below. 

Book excerpt: ‘The Way Home’

By Kardea Brown

Excerpted from”The Way Home” by Kardea Brown. Published by Amistad/Harper Collins Publishers. Copyright © 2022 by Kardea Brown. All rights reserved.

Emiko Tamagawa produced and edited this interview for broadcast with Todd MundtGrace Griffin adapted it for the web.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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