Library presents Black History Month cooking series for teens
There’s a good reason that most ethnic and cultural festivals include cuisine. Food and cooking are inextricably woven into cultural identity, and food is a language that can be readily, and universally, understood.
“To sample the food of a particular culture is to immediately experience that culture,” said Shamekia Chandler, Heights Libraries youth services associate. “That’s why I decided to focus on food to celebrate Black History Month this year.”
Chandler will be facilitating the Black History Month Cooking Series for kids ages 10 to 18, on Tuesdays in February at 3:30 p.m. at Heights Libraries' Lee Road branch. Each week, a different local chef will demonstrate how to make simple meals that are rich in flavor and history. “This series will not only teach kids culinary skills, but will give them a cohesive understanding of the African Diaspora and its place in our country’s history, through food,” Chandler said.
On Feb. 4, Chef Sediah Hamzah, who operates the meal service company Meals Made Easy, will create a vegan soul food dish. “I believe it is important for this generation to learn about cultural foods because so much of our history has been stolen from us,” said Hamzah. “We’re taught that our only tie to food is soul food, but our people knew so much more than the limitations given to us by those who owned our ancestors.”
On Feb. 11, Chef Eric Wells, who owns and operates Sky LaRae’s Culinary Services, will make a West African dish. Wells, who was born and raised in Cleveland, is a graduate of the International Culinary Arts and Sciences Institute, and the Loretta Paganini School of cooking.
On Feb. 18, home cook Denise Miller will make a Jamaican dish. Originally from Jamaica, Miller moved to the United States 36 years ago and has lived in the Heights for the past 25 years. She learned to cook from her grandmother, mother and aunts.
Last, but not least, on Feb. 25, Chef Eric Rogers, well-known in the eastern suburbs for Black Box Fix, Sweet Fix bakery and the Fresh Fix, will make a New Orleans-Creole dish. Rogers has been cooking since he was 8, starting out in his grandparents’ East Cleveland restaurant.
The Lee Road branch is located at 2345 Lee Road in Cleveland Heights. Program registration is required, and can be made online at www.heightslibrary.org, or by phone at 216-932-3600.
Sheryl Banks is the communications manager for the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library System.