It was always been my belief that the kitchen is the single-most important area in the African-American household. It is where families share stories of childhood memories and moments of happiness that will forever withstand the test of time. It is where some women experience their first rite of passage as an adult, when the matriarch passes down recipes from generation to generation; while at the same time teaching life lessons that reach far beyond the dinner table. It was a time when my mother and I would discuss sports, politics, and current events. These moments shaped who I was as a person (both literally and figuratively. I definitely put on some pounds during the holidays, but we’ll discuss that at a later date…) and made me appreciate those fleeting moments that we have with family; a time that most of us take for granted in this crazy world that we live in.
In terms of importance, the same can be said about restaurants and eateries, if conducted correctly. Thus, the position of Head Chef, holds an immense amount of responsibility. It is a role that garners much respect; and one's leadership qualities must be second to none. Last month, I was blessed with the opportunity to speak with Chef Kenneth Temple, a person I've known since I was a child. He was born and raised in New Orleans, and has appeared on local news segments with the late Chef Frank Davis on WWLTV Morning News Show in New Orleans and the late Roger Moore on the Roger Moore Show in Baton Rouge, LA.
Two years after graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Culinary Arts from the John Folse Culinary Institute, Kenneth started Savory LLC., a personal chef and private dining service. His company focuses on delicious food with Creole, Cajun, Southern, and Caribbean cuisine, to which Kenneth calls “Southern Creole.” He was also the culinary correspondent for Talk Dat NOLA, an online news program highlighting everything positive in New Orleans. Once a month, you can catch him doing food demos at Williams-Sonoma. He is also working as the Culinary Director for Celebrity Chef Jeff Henderson’s nationally syndicated show, Flip My Food.
Now, you can catch Chef Kenneth Temple on The Black Food Network.
Okla: What's good, Ken? It's been many moons since we've last spoken. *laughs* I'm glad to see everything is working out for you... I'm always a fan of one in pursuit of their dreams.
Kenneth: Everything is everything, Okla. I remember back in elementary school when everyone called you Jarred...
Okla: My family and close friends still do, nothings changed. Let's get right into it... so, what exactly is the Black Food Network?
Kenneth: Although its name is the Black Food Network, it focuses on current events, and a nucleus for all things culture. It even touches on sports and music... Of course, the main topic is food; everything else comes secondary.
Okla: How did you get involved with the Black Food Network?
Kenneth: At the time, I was starting to develop a name for myself outside of the city of New Orleans. The head of the Black Food Network, Darius Williams reached out to me one day, and wanted to set up a business call. It was during the infancy stages of the network, and he was trying to get together a variety of chefs, focusing on the many different aspects of cooking and eating.
Okla: So, what do you bring to the network?
Kenneth: Well, my specialty is clean, healthy eating. A lot of the dishes I cook are healthy, while still having that great taste that some clean dishes may lack. When people think of health-oriented foods, they attach a lack of flavor or blandness to it... I want to debunk that way of thinking.
Okla: I feel that. The better it tastes, the worse it is for you for some reason... Prove our taste buds wrong. Oh, how long have you been cooking?
Kenneth: I've been cooking for about 18 years, but its been a primary source of income for me for about 8 years.
Okla: ...when did you know you wanted to pursue this as a job rather than a habit?
Kenneth: There was a point when I was taking my passion to cook a bit more seriously, but it wasn't my career path just yet... I needed more motivation. It was during a culinary class I was taking; the second to be exact, my instructor told me that I belonged in the kitchen. My attention to detail and the skill I had with minimal training, he thought that I was born to cook. That was the push that I needed.
Okla: Dope. Another thing I've been meaning to ask you... how do you feel about the representation of African-Americans in the culinary field?
Kenneth: In chef terms, bland. Throughout America, there are plenty of black chefs in kitchens, but very few are actually leading. As with many things, our misrepresentation in the kitchen is not due to lack of talent or ambition. Many of us just don't know the proper avenues to take; even having fewer opportunities than our contemporaries.
Okla: The city of New Orleans has always been synonymous with food and music; and most natives have a deep appreciation for both. It's good to see a genuine person excelling in one of those facets of home life, you know? Before we conclude this, can you let everyone know who your Black Food Network counterparts are, and what they bring to the table?
Kenneth: Of course. Angelo is our resident pastry Chef, Danielle focuses on making restaurant quality food from home, Meiko's specialty is worldwide cuisine; Brandon creates vegetarian style food, Darius makes food that you would find in your Grandmother's kitchen, and I focus on healthy eating.
Okla: No doubt, it seems like you guys cover all bases? *laughs*
Kenneth: Most definitely.
Okla: I know you're a busy man, I appreciate you taking time out your schedule to rap for a little bit.
Kenneth: The pleasure is all mine. Good talking to you, man.
Here are some of Kenneth's media outlets in case you needed to get in touch with him:
Facebook: Kenneth Temple
Check out Kenneth, along with his other contemporaries at www.blkfoodnetwork.com
- Oak (@coolhandoak)