Dallas, if you weren’t aware, has a strong vegan scene led by Black chefs. Though ancient grain bowls and hearty toasts topped with flax seed have proliferated in the health food world in recent-ish years, pre-colonial Africans historically relied on plant-based diets, and the vegan cuisine local Black chefs are serving up go beyond dainty salads. Jackfruit barbecue, oyster mushroom po’boys, stick-to-your-bones vegan chili—it’s a soulful kind of food that can be often overlooked in the beef epicenter of the U.S.
Next week—which is February, for anyone else feeling perplexed or gaslit by time itself—the Dallas Public Library will host a series centering local vegan chefs for Black History Month. The program is online only and entirely free.
Each Saturday, one chef will sit for a live-streamed interview and/or present a cooking demonstration. Cynthia Nevels of Soulgood will kick off the series on February 13. Her talk will be streamed on the Dallas Public Library Facebook page. As a bit of background, Nevels began cooking vegan food for her youngest son, Tyler, who suffered from cystic fibrosis (he unfortunately passed away). But making plant-based meals for Tyler inspired Nevels to launch Soulgood.
Tisha Crear is a master of juices and wellness shots, attracting all manner of loyalists to her restaurant Recipe Oak Cliff, which is located near the zoo. (Longtime friend and vegan Erykah Badu is also a fan.) She’s up next on February 20, when you can watch a pre-recorded cooking demo followed by a live Q&A.
Then, on February 27, Brandon Waller, who’s readying Bam’s Vegan Smoothies and Wraps in Irving, will round out the program. Waller has long served his vegan fare out of the Dallas Farmers Market and through Bam’s Vegan pop-ups throughout the Dallas area. His upcoming brick and mortar at 2301 N. O’Connor Road will focus on grab-and-go, which makes sense in these careful times. (Last summer Waller released a series of e-cookbooks, perfect for quarantine cooking at home.)
At the very start of February, catch a panel entitled, “Grow With Us: The Black and Indigenous History of Agriculture” wherein local Black farmers and food justice advocates discuss Dallas’ agriculture infrastructure, the legacy of Black and Indigenous contributions in local farming, and more. It’s not about vegan food in particular, but would lay the foundation for the February chef series that follows.
Lastly, although not Black History Month-related or specifically about food, another event on the DPL calendar that caught my eye is the Senior Coffee Club. Every Tuesday morning seniors (presumably) log into Zoom to share stories and jokes, and find some essential human connection for an hour or so. While I’m a ways from aging into the club, knowing folks are finding avenues to “get together” over coffee is really just nice. That is all.
All right, go forth and make ye online registrations for whichever cooking demos or chats strike your fancy.