At least 90,000 restaurants and bars have closed — some permanently — since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the latest data released by the National Restaurant Association in May 2021. And though many restaurants have reopened their doors and returned to serving diners indoors, restaurant recovery is currently being slowed by labor shortages and inflation. These issues only add to the disparate challenges Black-owned businesses faced prior to the pandemic, including lack of access to capital and higher rates of financial distress.
If you’re looking to support Black chefs and restaurateurs beyond dining at their eateries, one way to do so is through purchasing their cookbooks. To help guide your shopping, we rounded up cookbooks by Black chefs and restaurateurs nominated for James Beard Awards this year — the prestigious accolades annually recognize culinary professionals in the U.S. We included semi-finalists and finalists, with topics ranging from dessert-focused books to those filled with soul food recipes.
Books by Black James Beard nominees
The James Beard Foundation’s annual award nominees include chefs and restaurateurs nationwide, as well as authors and journalists who covered the food, beverage and restaurant world through cookbooks, articles, podcasts and more. The James Beard Foundation recently announced the finalists for its 2022 Restaurant and Chef Awards, shortening down the semifinalist list it released in February. The winners from each category will be announced at the awards ceremony in June.
Some of the Black chefs and restaurateurs nominated this year have released cookbooks throughout their careers. The books give readers insights into their backgrounds, culinary inspirations and favorite recipes.
Below, we rounded up cookbooks by Black chefs and restaurateurs nominated for James Beard Awards this year as semifinalists or finalists. This list is not exhaustive — for example, some Black chefs and restaurateurs nominated for James Beard Awards released self-published books sold exclusively at their restaurants, and some books are out of stock across retailers.
‘Saltbox Seafood Joint Cookbook’ by Ricky Moore
Ricky Moore is the chef and owner at Saltbox Seafood Joint restaurant in Durham, North Carolina, and he’s a finalist in the Best Chef: Southeast category this year. In addition to detailing how he started his restaurant and food truck enterprise, Moore’s cookbook includes 60 recipes for everything from chowders and grits to seafood. Recipes for dishes from the restaurant include Hush-Honeys, a hushpuppy Moore is known for.
‘Between Harlem and Heaven’ by JJ Johnson and Alexander Smalls with Veronica Chambers
JJ Johnson is the chef and founder at Fieldtrip restaurant in New York City, and he’s a finalist in the Best Chef: New York State category this year. “Between Harlem and Heaven” explores Asian, African and American flavors, and how these cuisines are part of Harlem’s past and present history. The book features recipes ranging from beverages like punches to main dishes like macaroni and cheese casserole.
‘Justice of the Pies’ by Maya-Camille Broussard (preorder)
Maya-Camille Broussard is the owner of Justice of the Pies bakery in Chicago, and she’s a finalist in the Outstanding Baker category this year. Her cookbook, “Justice of the Pies,” will be published on Oct. 18, and it features 75 sweet and savory pie, quiche and tart recipes, as well as options for vegan and gluten-free dishes. “Justice of the Pie” also highlights social justice and equity activists and recipes that honor their cultural backgrounds and the missions behind their work.
‘Horn Barbecue’ by Matt Horn (preorder)
Matt Horn is the owner and pitmaster at Horn BBQ in Oakland, California, and his restaurant is a finalist in the Best New Restaurant category this year. His cookbook, “Horn Barbecue,” will be published on April 12 — it includes recipes for dishes on the restaurant’s menu as well as those in Horn’s personal repertoire. In addition to meat dishes, the cookbook teaches readers how to make sides like watermelon salad and desserts like banana pudding.
‘Sylvia’s Soul Food’ by Sylvia Woods and Christopher Styler
Sylvia’s Restaurant in New York City is a finalist in the Outstanding Hospitality category this year. The restaurant’s founder, Sylvia Woods, passed away in 2012 and it’s now run by her family. Sylvia Woods published the cookbook “Sylvia’s Soul Food” in the ‘90s and it features stories from her childhood, which was strongly rooted in gathering with family and friends while eating and sharing recipes. The cookbook features over 125 recipes for soul food dishes including okra, Southern-style pound cakes, meat and seafood stews and more.
‘Well, Shut My Mouth!’ by Stephanie Tyson
Stephanie Tyson is the owner and chef at Sweet Potatoes restaurant in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and she’s a semifinalist in the Best Chef: Southeast category this year. “Well, Shut My Mouth!” features family recipes from her and Vivian Joiner, the restaurant’s co-owner. You’ll find information about how to make dishes like spicy greens, crackling cornbread, pimento cheese fondue and more.
‘The Fresh Harvest Cookbook’ by Chris Viaud and Keith Sarasin
Chris Viaud is the chef and owner at Greenleaf restaurant in Milford, New Hampshire, and he’s a semifinalist in the Emerging Chef category this year. Viaud often collaborates with Chef Keith Sarasin, and “The Fresh Harvest Cookbook” is their latest release. It includes over 150 recipes for bread, snacks, salads, entrees and desserts, and each chapter is organized by season to teach readers how to use fresh food at different times of the year.
‘Soul’ by Todd Richards
Chef Todd Richards is the founder of The Soulful Company Restaurant Group in Atlanta, and he and co-founder Chef Joshua Lee are semifinalists in the Outstanding Restaurateur category this year. Recipes in the cookbook are rooted in soul food, but Richards puts his own spin on the cuisine as he’s explored it during his career. The cookbook’s chapters are organized by featured ingredients like berries, corn, beans and rice, lamb and more.