TELLING STORIES, CHANGING THE CONVERSATION

A chef’s tale: San Francisco’s Black-owned businesses leave entrepreneurial legacy

in Gentrification/Major Collaborative Project by

San Francisco carries a rich, African American culinary history. Documented by San Franciscan, Chef Wanda Blake, she also talks about how gentrification changed the neighborhood she called home and nourished both her soul and hunger for entrepreneurship.

Bay Area chef, Wanda Blake, chronicles her childhood in Black San Francisco by recalling the restaurants and Black business owners who nourished her with food and opportunity. Revisiting her time walking down Divisadero Street and other Black enclaves such as the Fillmore District, Chef Black documents a tightly-knitted community that gradually eroded as gentrification heightened.

Wanda Blake is founder of pop-up restaurant, Wanda’s Cooking, and maker of an artisan, small-batched recipe of the Southern condiment, pepper chowchow. Blake is on a continuous journey for her passion for food. With family roots from Arkansas, she grew up in San Francisco, hung out in Oakland, and had the pleasure of eating in kitchens of Texas and New Orleans migrants. Surrounded by Sunday cooks, church lady desserts, barbecue men who smoked meat with wood, and women who wore aprons in the kitchen, her taste buds were enriched with the diverse cultures of the Bay Area. So far, her food travels include New York, New Orleans, Texas (east-west), Bahia, Cuba and Nigeria.

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