With Netflix’s ‘High on the Hog: How African American Cuisine Transformed America’ delving into Black culture through food, community, and resiliency, we get a documentary series unlike any other. After all, it follows sommelier turned writer Stephen Satterfield as he traverses across the two nations of his roots while also connecting with others to really uncover the true significance of their grub. So now that season 2 of this incredible original has landed on our screens too, let’s look back for a moment and learn more about some of the most intriguing cast members from season 1, shall we?
Stephen Satterfield is a Man of Many Hats
Although Atlanta native Stephen began his career as a sommelier immediately upon graduating culinary school, he has since moved on to achieve a lot more while still remaining in the f&b industry. He actually founded a non-profit called the International Society of Africans in Wine in 2007, successfully managed a restaurant, plus co-established a quarterly food-culture exploration magazine named Whetstone in 2017. As for what he’s been up to these days, this 38-year-old San Francisco resident recently launched a culinary talent agency, HONE Talent, under his Whetstone media agency, which even has podcasts of its own.
Jessica B. Harris is a Renowned Culinary Historian
Considering the fact Queens, New York, native Jessica is not just Stephen’s mentor but also the woman whose eponymous book inspired this series, it’s no surprise she’s eminent in the industry. After all, she earned a lot of theoretical knowledge from studying in Paris before obtaining her Master’s as well as Ph.D., following which she gained experience as a journalist, television show expert, and professor. So, it appears as if this 75-year-old former Professor Emerita at Queens College, City University of New York, plus a two-time James Beard Foundation Award recipient, is now leading a quiet life in her “retirement renaissance” as just a culinary historian and author, with 15 books already under her name.
Valerie Vinakpon is Still a Proud Chef in Benin
While it’s unclear precisely how Valerie initially got her start, we do know she’s an extremely successful chef, cookbook author, as well as restauranter in her native West African country. She’s actually behind Saveurs du Benin in Cotonou as its Director, arguably one of the most popular joints in the area owing to her incredible menu selection focusing on novel Beninese dishes. She once said, “It’s really to encourage people to adopt Beninese cuisine because people have abandoned our traditional plates in favor of modern Western dishes,” and now it’s back in trend because of her.
BJ Denis is a Personal Chef and Caterer
Born and raised in Charleston, South Carolina, Benjamin “BJ” Dennis can only be described as one-of-a-kind considering his style is to blend a bit of southern flavors into the Gullah Geechee cuisine to pay homage to his roots from nearly every angle. In other words, he utilizes the techniques brought to the Americas by his West African ancestors, all of which he carefully learned through years of lessons under his grandparents and at St. Thomas, meaning he possesses both domestic and professional skills. It thus comes as no surprise he’s utterly thriving as a caterer, personal chef, as well as a proud family man these days.
Bill and Sara Green Are the Owners of Gullah Grub
According to the Netflix original production, like Dr. Jessica is Stephen’s mentor, Bill and Sara Green of The Gullah Grub Restaurant in St. Helena Island, South Carolina, are BJ’s. That’s especially because they also focus on the Gullah Geechee cuisine owing to their immediate familial ancestors, with most of their produce coming from Sara’s 10-acre Marshview Community Organic Farm. Moreover, from what we can tell, the couple also teaches young kids recipes from resources they already possess to expand their food-culture knowledge, all the while working at the local Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) Cooperative too.
Omar Tate is the Proud Founder of The Honeysuckle Project
It was back around the early 2010s when Omar stepped into this industry, only to gradually work in some of the best restaurants in New York City and Philadelphia before launching his own venture. The truth is he’d found an undeniable lack of representation for people of color while serving as a chef, which soon propelled him to launch The Honeysuckle Project as a pop-up for communities to network. However, today, with the help of Cybille St. Aude-Tate, this brand has evolved to represent those businesses that have Black/Afrocentric food-based ideologies right at the front and center. As for Omar, this married father of one is also behind the Honeysuckle Provisions grocery store plus cafe, all the while seemingly dabbling in the world of creative art as a curious epistemologist too.
Pastor Clinton Edison’s Church BBQ is Not Closed
While it’s true Pastor Clinton of the New Zion Missionary Baptist Church did have to close down its Church BBQ establishment for a few months as he focused on caring for his ailing mother, it has reportedly since been reopened and rebranded. In fact, it seems like his daughter Tameka Edison and her husband Jerry “Blue” Greathouse were the ones to take over its reins in 2020, following which they re-launched it as a new business altogether, Holy Smoke BBQ, owing to a few local laws. Therefore, today, it’s likely the veteran Reverend primarily only focuses on his set role in the church as well as at home as a father and a grandfather.