Eden Hagos couldn’t find a website that brought together black voices, recipes and dining experiences, so she drew on her sociology degree, her social-media management expertise and her serious love of food to cook up her own.
Launched in 2015, her website, Black Foodie, began as a lively online platform that spotlighted African, Caribbean and American Southern cuisine, but has since branched out to include jam-packed events and festivals. Hagos talked to Chatelaine about the story behind Black Foodie and what else she has in store in 2018.
Where did Black Foodie come from?
I had a negative experience that made me think about food and race more critically: I went out for my birthday in Toronto with a group of black women and didn’t feel we were treated the way customers should be.
But it also made me think that I had never invited my friends to go to an African or Caribbean restaurant, even though my family once owned one [an Ethiopian restaurant in Windsor, Ont.]. I began to intentionally visit African and Caribbean restaurants and post on social media and I became that source for suggestions. I looked, but I didn’t see a place online that explored food through a black lens.25 Canadian Women Changing The Way We Eat Now
What are the assumptions about black food that you want to challenge?
I think, from the diaspora, there’s this assumption that this is food you enjoy at home and that it’s not worth paying a premium for, and that’s shared by other communities. People know cheap Ethiopian food and jerk chicken, and those things are amazing, but I’d like to see people check their assumptions that this food has to stay at a certain price point, in a certain environment. These are ingredients and techniques worth paying for and experiencing in a different way.
How else do you want to bring people together to experience black food?
I think people are really interested in having neat, curated experiences around food that tells them a story and brings them in conversation with a chef.
We started doing events called Injera and Chill — it’s a fun, food-focused day party where east African chefs showcase what they’re doing in their kitchens [injera is an Ethiopian flatbread]. The last one had more than 200 guests.
This year, we’re doing a series called Garnish, where we invite black chefs to curate a menu, showing foods from across Africa and the Caribbean. It’s something where foodies, whether they’re black or not, can have a new appreciation for this style of cooking.
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