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An excellent opportunity: The James Beard Foundation 16th Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change

This morning as I saw my Google alert, to be 1 of 16 people to selected to participate in this future event, The James Beard Foundation Chefs Boot Camp, is amazing to think about my beginnings in Clarendon County. I never thought the food work that I have been doing all of my life around farming and bbq would be recognized because it was something we just did on my family’s farm in Paxville(community outside of Manning), SC. Having the opportunity to honor my family and ancestors that have played a significant hand in creating and shaping for future generations to enjoy is what I am most excited about. I am extremely honored that the people at the James Beard Foundation saw the work I have been doing around highlighting South Carolina pitcooked bbq, Gullah, and Creole foodways. I did this work not because people were watching but I felt a deep responsibility when I look out across the culinary landscape and I did not see people who looked like the people whom taught me as child, particularly in barbecue being recognized on national levels.

My love of education brought on by understanding the sacrifices made by Levi Pearson vs Clarendon County and Briggs vs Elliot in my home county of Clarendon Co, along with my own family experiences in the south motivated me further to work hard and get the best education possible. Getting the education, I did not forget the food traditions that I was taught because it was around those traditions , fires, and fields were countless hours of education in history, math, and science was provided.

I am very excited to participate in this event because I see I am participating with some amazing people like Edouardo Jordan whom I met for the first time this past summer at Sunday’s BBQ Supper hosted by BJ Dennis and me. To see Kristen Essig whom has been speaking up for women chefs in New Orleans on the list is great too. I recognize some of the other names but I have not met them personally like Ashley Christensen on the list, I feel extremely fortunate. Congrats to all selected and I look forward to meeting you in Vermont.

As I constantly think about Gumbo Jubilee: A whole cow bbq ( ) I am hosting October 20, 2018 and the PBS Digital show (, “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required.” I don’t take these opportunities for granted because any time I have the opportunity for growth, to learn, and to share to make the world better, I will try to seize the opportunity even if I don’t know the path forward.

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