Bryant Terry speaking to audience.

Food, Culture & Community: Bryant Terry Wrap Up

Bryant Terry engaged and delighted an audience of over one hundred at Celebration Tabernacle on May 16th as part of a tour to introduce his newest book, Afro-Vegan: Farm-Fresh African, Caribbean, and Southern Flavors Remixed. Terry shared the arc of his food journey, which, in a way was more like a circle. In an almost breathless recounting of events, he reminisced about the food of his southern upbringing and his grandmother’s labor of love that went into meal preparation. He even broke into song, eyes closed and quietly filled the church with his grandmother’s memory.

“I’ll tell you about slow food. What’s really slow is cooking all day Saturday for dinner on Sunday!” Terry said with delight.

He confessed to devolving into junk food in college to fit in, and when he’d had enough of that, he emerged to embrace cooking and enjoying real food with renewed devotion. A devotion that led to activist work, giving youth the tools to empower themselves.

“Teaching people to select and prepare a meal is a political act,” he said.

Below, Pastor Tolbert of Celebration Tabernacle, our host and sponsor for the evening, welcomes the audience.

Pastor Tolbert welcomes audience.

Below, ingredients for Tofu Curry with Swiss Chard from Afro-Vegan, ready for preparation. Terry calls his recipes “culinary clash ups,” taking traditional recipes from various African cultures and infusing them with flavor profiles from other cuisines. Putting this book, as well as his others, in context, he talked about the often limiting view of African-American cooking and how he wanted to change that — as slave food or else consisting of only fried food. Part of his work is preserving the best aspects of this regional food culture, one characterized by lots of greens and legumes, before its lost to history.

Recently, Dan Barber, another chef/activist, who is calling for eating in a way that supports the land better, said of cooking from the American south, “In a dish, you had everything that supported that ecology.”

Bryant's cooking demo set up

Terry stressed the importance of not getting hung up on ingredients. He’d like to see his recipes more as guides rather than worrying about exactness. “If you don’t have mustard greens but you have a bunch of chard in your garden, by all means, do not go to the store to by mustard greens!”

Bryant Terry at Stove during cooking demo

Below, Chef Bradley from Po’Shines, an activist soul food café next door that contributed food for the event, challenges everyone to help youth understand the importance of good food and the impact it has on their health. Po’Shines crew served up delicious dishes straight from Afro-Vegan.


The Tofu Curry with Swiss Chard that percolated away during Bryant’s talk was a big hit. Attendees lined up to sample the savory stew.

Tofu Curry being spooned into a bowl.

Crunchy Bean and Okra Fritters with Mango Habenero Sauce, from Afro-Vegan, packed the crunch and the spice.

Crunchy Bean and Okra Fritters

Toasted Pecan Blackeyed Pea Flatbread Pizza, from Chef Bradley’s recipe collection at Fresh Start (an organization that provides wellness guidance to at-risk individuals), added to the many tastes of the evening.

Toasted Pecan  Blackeyed Pea Flatbread Pizza

Thank you to Pastor Tolbert and Celebration Tabernacle for partnering with Slow Food Portland to host this special evening with Bryant Terry. Much appreciation to Chef Bradley and his crew at Po’Shines for the unending support and for creating the many flavorful tastings for the event.

The cooking demonstration ingredients were contributed by Green Zebra Grocery.

Photography by Shawn Linehan.


This post was contributed by Jane Pellicciotto and Cheryl Brock.

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