Toni Tipton Martin is an award-winning food and nutrition journalist, cookbook author, and community activist whose recent book, the James Beard Award-winning The Jemima Code, shines a spotlight on her private collection of recipe books by African-Americans and the stories behind the cooks.
Through her work, Toni strives to build a healthier community through her books, classes, and foundation. She has been invited twice by First Lady Michelle Obama to the White House for her outreach to help families live healthier lives, and also received the 2014 Southern Foodways Alliance John Egerton Prize for this work.
In 1991, Toni became the first African-American woman to hold the position of food editor at a major daily newspaper, the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Prior to that post, she was the nutrition writer for the Los Angeles Times and a contributing editor to Heart and Soul Magazine (a health and fitness book for African-American women). She has shared her passion for cooks and the community as a freelance writer for UNC Wilmington’s Ecotone Journal, the Austin Chronicle, Texas Co-op Magazine, Gastronomica The Journal of Food and Culture, and Cooking Light Magazine.
In 2008, after 30 years teaching cooking in the media and demonstrations, Toni founded The SANDE Youth Project as a grassroots outreach to improve the lives of vulnerable families. The 501(c)(3) not-for-profit is dedicated to combating childhood hunger, obesity and disease by promoting the connection between cultural heritage, cooking, and wellness. Through community partnership with the University of Texas, and collaborations with Oldways Preservation Trust, the City of Austin, Edible Austin Magazine, and others, Toni’s organization presents hands-on, culturally-sensitive, culinary-focused activities for the community, including nutrition classes in mobile settings and at its annual signature event, the Children’s Picnic and Real Food Fair.
She is a co-founder and president of the board of Foodways Texas, and on the board of the community-building organization Peace Through Pie. She is on the Broadcast Committee for the James Beard Awards and the African Heritage Diet Pyramid Advisory Committee for Oldways. Toni is a member of Les Dames D’Escoffier Austin Chapter, the International Association of Culinary Professionals, and Jack and Jill of America, Inc., and is a co-founder and former president of Southern Foodways Alliance. Toni has been a guest instructor at Whole Foods Culinary Center, and has appeared on the Cooking Channel’s Foodography and the PBS feature Juneteenth Jamboree. She has been a featured speaker at several places, including the Austin History Center; the Longone Center for American Culinary Research; Culinary Historians of Southern California; and Mississippi University for Women, among many others. She is a graduate of the University of Southern California School of Journalism and lives in Austin with her husband. She is the mother of four.
“The Jemima Code” is also the title of her blog and a traveling exhibit, featuring larger-than-life images of black cooks at work, curated from Toni’s gallery of authors. Toni has recently been celebrated in the press for her work on and surround The Jemima Code, with coverage from CBS News, The Denver Post, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Splendid Table, and many more.
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Jan. 11, 2016 | For Immediate Release
The Lisa Ekus Group is pleased to announce that Southern cooking authority and writer Virginia Willis and public media powerhouse WGBH are in development of a TV series to air nationally on public television stations.
SECRETS OF THE SOUTHERN TABLE: A Food Lovers Tour of the Global South™ is a 13-episode, half-hour cooking and travel show that showcases the cuisine of the traditional South with the vibrant new cooking of the modern South. Virginia is a nationally recognized, French-trained chef whose style of cooking is defined as “refined Southern cuisine,” a potent blend of classic technique, balanced flavors, and a keen sense of tradition.
Laurie Donnelly, WBGH Executive Producer for Lifestyles and Special Projects calls Virginia Willis “…a tremendous talent and with this series we are showing a side of Southern cuisine that viewers have not been exposed to before – the true food secrets of the South.” Boston-based WGBH-TV is the long-time home of The French Chef, Julia Child’s acclaimed television show, a leader in creating educational content, and PBS’s single largest producer for television, web, and mobile.
SECRETS OF THE SOUTHERN TABLE: A Food Lovers Tour of the Global South™ brings to life the rich culture and multi-faceted stories behind Southern food and cooking. Virginia will visit Southern farmers, artisans and producers, sharing their stories and the ways in which they impact the landscape of Southern cuisine. The series is an exploration of centuries-old ancient foodways and bold new direction from immigrants and international influences, showing viewers that the food of the South is equally catfish and churrasco, barbecue and bulgogi, cheese grits and curried goat. Filming is expected to begin in the summer of 2017.
About Virginia Willis
Georgia-born French-trained Chef Virginia Willis has cooked Lapin Normandie with Julia Child in France, prepared lunch for President Clinton, catered a bowling party for Jane Fonda, and harvested capers in the shadow of a smoldering volcano in Sicily – but it all started in her grandmother’s country kitchen.
Virginia is the author of Bon Appétit, Y’all, Basic to Brilliant, Y’all, and Lighten Up, Y’all for Ten Speed Press as well as Okra, part of the UNC press SAVOR THE SOUTH® series, and Grits by Short Stack Editions. Named by the Chicago Tribune as one of “Seven Food Writers You Need to Know,” her fans love her knack for giving classic French dishes a down-home comfort feel and reimagining Southern favorites.
She’s a contributing editor for Southern Living and creator of Down-Home Comfort on FoodNetwork.com. Her work has appeared on Food52.com and CNN.com, as well as in Eating Well, Fine Cooking, and All Recipes. She has been featured in the Washington Post, USA Today, Tasting Table, Serious Eats, Country Living, and House Beautiful, and quoted in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. She has appeared on Food Network’s Chopped, as a judge on Bobby Flay’s Throwdown, and Martha Stewart Living Television. Learn more about Virginia and follow her culinary and travel exploits at www.virginiawillis.com.
For media and sponsorship inquiries, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
A graduate of Western Culinary Institute, Chef Scelfo has made an impression on the culinary world from a young age, receiving a 2 ½ star review in The New York Times while at the helm of Long Island’s Blond at the age of 25. He has overseen the kitchens of notable restaurants, including Dedo, North Street Grill, Tea-Tray in the Sky and The Good Life in Boston. In 2009, he took over at Temple Bar, receiving critical praise for his Merguez Sliders as one of The Boston Globe’s “2009 Favorite Things” and was awarded Best Restaurant – Harvard Square by Boston Magazine.
In 2010, Chef Scelfo was selected as the opening Executive Chef of Russell House Tavern, for which he earned a two-star review from The Boston Globe, and was recognized as Best Restaurant – Harvard Square by both Boston Magazine and The Improper Bostonian in 2012. In 2013, he won the American Lamb Board’s Boston Lamb Jam competition and was also crowned the “Prince of Porc” at the multi-city heritage pork competition Cochon 555.
In early 2014, Chef Scelfo brought his own personal culinary perspective to an establishment all his own, Alden & Harlow, located in the iconic Casablanca restaurant space in Harvard Square. Through his restaurant, Chef Scelfo figuratively extends his family’s kitchen table and pays homage to his roots, incorporating elements that have personal meaning while weaving together family recipes with his own and cooking from the heart. Boston Globe restaurant critic Devra First awarded Alden & Harlow a three-star review and the restaurant was named Best New Restaurant by Boston Magazine and The Improper Bostonian, as well as being chosen as “The Best of the New” in the Boston Globe Sunday Magazine. In 2015, Alden & Harlow was a semifinalist for the James Beard Foundation Awards in the Best New Restaurant category.