28 Days of Soul Food: Day 1
Dozzy's Grill owner explains how West African fare is the root of Southern cuisine.
I’m having so much fun with this Substack platform as well as the Instagram LIVE! Culinary Series that I decided to merge the two for Black History Month with some fun, educational tidbits about soul food.
All month — my ambition is to post something all 28 days — I will be featuring Black culinary facts, from the roots of soul food to the history of Black folks in the wine industry, and so much more.
At the end of January, I had the opportunity to chat with Dozzy Ibekwe, owner of the modern West African-inspired Dozzy’s Grill, in Chicago. He has a lot going on at this brand-new South Loop establishment, which is considered a ghost kitchen. That simply means that it’s a professional food preparation and cooking facility set up for delivery-only meals. From what I’ve observed around town thus far, it’s the only ghost kitchen with a West African focus.
During our recent discussion on the LIVE! Culinary Series, Ibekwe detailed how produce and ingredients native to West Africa made their way to the United States — through The Middle Passage, the forced voyage of millions of enslaved Africans across the Atlantic Ocean to the Americas. Women hid rice, seeds, and other ingredients in their braids. They also used them for nourishment since they were given very little food on the slave ships. He goes on to talk about how Africans from the beginning incorporated their cooking techniques into American cuisine.
“I think West African influence has been there all along,” says Ibekwe. “[For example] I have to sometimes remind friends that gumbo begat from dishes that were from West Africa. That’s how we connect.”
Check out the interview in its entirety right here.