From MasterClass, the platform that brought us classes from Gordon Ramsay and Thomas Keller, comes a new and exciting class that will teach you how to trace your roots through food.
In Michael Twitty Masterclass, the bestselling author of The Cooking Gene and culinary historian Michael W. Twitty teaches you how to cook dishes that helped shaped who you are. Get a taste of your family history through food, and start tracing your ancestral footsteps by looking back at your family tree and the contents of your pantry.
Through years of unearthing his African American heritage, Michael discovered undeniable ties between his ancestors’ past and his own palate. Now he’s teaching how you can taste your family history through food. Explore the migrations that informed the ingredients in your kitchen — then re-create the dishes that helped shape who you are.
When the topic is African American food, it's hard not to come across the name Michael W. Twitty. In the canon of Black food historians, Michael holds his own.
Combining his African American and Jewish identities in his dishes and cooking techniques, Michael uses food to find out how history and ancestry show up in kitchens. Through his writing and appearances on television and former U.S. first lady Michelle Obama's children's program Waffles + Mochi, Michael has helped chefs and eaters worldwide gain a deeper understanding of African American cooking.
Michael's investigation of the food on his table led him to work in plantation fields in the American South, where he researched African American history, specifically the historical practices of enslaved cooking. Dressed in historically accurate enslavement garb of the pre–Civil War South (trousers, a waistcoat, a long shirt, and a kerchief), Michael cooked and studied hearth cooking (a technique similar to what many enslaved Africans used to prepare meals for plantation owners).
He called this immersive experience "historic interpretation.". It illuminated how African American food is distinct: a special alchemy of Indigenous African ingredients rooted in the context of an alien place, leading to new, innovative techniques and recipe variations.
01 - Meet Your Instructor
Two-time James Beard award–winning author Michael W. Twitty introduces his book The Cooking Gene, the importance of preserving and promoting family food history, and why everyone should tell their food story.
02 - Ancestral Foodways: Keeping Recipes Alive
Michael breaks down his process for engaging with family in the kitchen in an effort to chronicle family foodways, or food pathways. He teaches what to do and what not to do when it comes to learning in the kitchen.
03 - Tracing Ancestral Foodsteps
Michael gives an eye-opening overview of the migratory patterns that have given rise to contemporary Southern food. He shows how anyone can learn about their food history with one look inside their pantry.
04 - Case Study: The Cooking Gene
Get a glimpse of Michael’s process for discovering his culinary roots with a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of his book The Cooking Gene.
05 - Foodways of the Transatlantic Slave Trade
Dive deeper into African American culinary history as Michael uncovers a hidden narrative that took place during the period of the transatlantic slave trade between the late 13th century and early 19th century.
06 - Food Culture of the Antebellum South
Michael pulls from his experience as a historical interpreter and historian to teach about life in the antebellum South as it relates to food.
07 - The Birth of Soul Food
Learn about the rise of contemporary soul food in the United States and the migratory patterns that contributed to the proliferation of Southern cuisine.
08 - Taking Inspiration From Master Chefs
Michael introduces two critical figures in African American cuisine: Edna Lewis and James Hemings. He shows how Lewis and Hemings laid the foundation for the popularity of a cuisine with staple ingredients rooted in African foodways.
09 - Africa’s Culinary Contributions
Many typical dishes from countries all over the world have roots in Africa. Michael traces back a few well-known dishes to Africa and talks about the cultural roots of what is commonly referred to as “Southern hospitality.”
10 - The Mosaic of Genealogy
Hear how Michael has come to terms with his own DNA story as he delves into the importance of speculative and genetic genealogy when researching his family history and ancestral “foodsteps.”
11 - Deciphering Your DNA Story
Addressing the African American community, Michael gives an unfiltered view of the pros and cons of DNA testing. He explores the intersection of history and genealogy to guide and point out the shortcomings of researching African American family history.
12 - Food Storytelling
Michael divulges his step-by-step process on food writing, going beyond the palate and into the deep meaning and history behind a dish or ingredient.
13 - Food Blogging with Purpose
Showing how anyone can use their own purpose to find their voice, Michael breaks down his blog, “Afroculinaria,” and dives into reframing society’s perspective of African American cuisine.
14 - Facing Your Pain
Researching family foodways requires facing a complex past that is often rooted in pain. Michael explores how he’s been able to tackle the pain that comes with confronting the past with vulnerability and shows how you can too.
15 - Culinary Justice
Michael tackles the topics of cultural appropriation and environmental racism by exploring a system that denies African Americans credit for their own culinary impact.
16 - Okra, Corn & Tomato Stew
Michael whips up what he likes to call an Okra, Corn, and Tomato “Stewp,” shares best practices for cooking okra, demonstrates traditional techniques for taste testing food, and delves into why vegetables are so prevalent in Southern cuisine.
17 - Accara: Black-Eyed Pea Fritters
Michael makes what he calls “West Africa’s answer to falafel” while dissecting the roots and cultural significance of black-eyed peas. He shows how to cook based on “feeling” as the ancestors did in the past.
18 - Our Narratives Connect Us
Understand how the traditions and foodways that are passed down to all of us intersect, and how we can use that commonality to open a positive dialogue. Michael shows how recording and preserving food experiences can help you craft your own food legacy.
Michael found his way home through these experiences, plus additional research and extensive travels to the African continent. He discovered how his family came to have certain food traditions and, by extension, explored and understood the connectedness of his family and so many others whose stories started in Africa and stretched to the shores of America.
In this class, you’ll take inspiration from Michael’s story and learn how to recontextualize the meals on your plate and the stories heard at your family’s dinner table. All of Michael’s work proves that food and personal history are entirely interconnected. Remember, your food is your flag.
Micheal Twitty MasterClass is very different from all the previous cooking MasterClasses. With just two recipes, this is more of a history class than a cooking class.
We are not saying this as a criticism because anyone passionate about culinary history, especially African American cuisine, will love this. For those looking for a more practical class, you should look for other classes.
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Michael Twitty MasterClass is an excellent history class about African American Cuisine. This class will teach you how to contextualize the meals you had at your family's dinner table, re-creating the dishes that helped shape who you are.