Food Network is getting into the holiday spirit with its first Kwanzaa series, set to highlight the food and history of the annual seven-day celebration.
“” is hosted by culinary scholar Tonya Hopkins, who on the FoodNetwork.com series will guide the audience through each of Kwanzaa’s seven principles using a special dish as conversation.
“Celebrating Kwanzaa through good food and drink not only allows us to reconnect to the vibrance of our culinary history that greatly informs who we are as Black people, our very identities — but also to take pride in that which has so profoundly shaped American foodways at large, for centuries,” Hopkins says of the series produced by Best Wishes Studio.
Per Food Network, “In each of the seven episodes Tonya and a special guest prepare a recipe that is connected to the day’s celebration. Together they will commemorate each day of Kwanzaa by cooking meaningful dishes and discussing the Nguzu Saba, the seven principles, and history of the holiday. When presented together, the collective dishes create a meaningful and celebratory Kwanzaa Menu.”
The series is a family affair for Hopkins, filmed at her family’s South Orange County, Calif. home and featuring guest appearances from her father Dr. Thomas A. Parham and sister Kenya Parham, who also serves as a writer and producer.
“Both my and Tonya’s life work centers around doing all things ‘for the culture!’ This project was a deeply personal labor of love — love for our people, love for ourselves, and love for the principles that anchor our lives,” cultural strategist Kenya says of the project. “To collaborate on this production with my brilliant sister, our family, an all-star (majority Black) crew led by Best Wishes Studio and Food Network is the kind of kismet synergy dreams are made of! We know we’ve created a cultural gem with ‘The Kwanzaa Menu’ and are tremendously excited for the world to receive it and celebrate with us!”
“The Kwanzaa Menu” premieres Dec. 26 on FoodNetwork.com. Discover each episode’s inspiration, special guests and delicious dishes below:
“Umoja” (Unity) | Amazing Hibiscus Mulled Wine Kwanzaa Mimosa – Tonya is joined by her sister, Kenya Parham, to prepare a recipe celebrating the principle of Umoja, which emphasizes the importance of unity in all areas, including family, community, nation and race. Traditionally libations, served in a Kikombe Cha Umoja (Unity Cup) are presented to acknowledge and honor the family units of present and past.
“Kujichagulia (Self-Determination)” | Crispy Akara (Black-Eyed Pea Fritters) with Savory Smoky Sesame Sauce – The principle of Kujichagulia focuses on building one’s identity as a person and a community and in honor of that, Tonya whips up a dish with the help of special guest, Kareem Grimes. The majority of Black Americans descended from (or passed through) the West African region and the recipe is a way to make culinary contact and acknowledge that point of origin and ancestral journey.
“Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility)” | Good Deeds Greens – In this episode actress Taja V. Simpson joins Tonya to make a dish that embodies Ujima, which focuses on collective work and shared responsibility for both achievements and setbacks in the community and comes to life with this all-hands-on-deck recipe.
“Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics)” | Black Sable Rice Calas – The principle of Ujamaa reinforces the third day’s principle, Ujima, by encouraging support of each other economically and within the community. Blue Telusma helps Tonya in the kitchen and discusses the origin of this dish created by Black women, as well as the history of Black Americans as the first food vendors and successful culinary entrepreneurs in America.
“Nia (Purpose)” | First Fruits Harvest Smoothie Bowl – The principle of Nia means purpose and encourages us to move through life with intention, being mindful with our words and actions. In this episode, sisters Tonya and Kenya discuss restoration through healthy plant-based living while building this red, black and green dish.
“Kuumba (Creativity)” | Yassa-Inspired Grilling – The principle of Kuumba is a time to reflect on leaving the community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it; to celebrate creativity and ingenuity by paying homage to creative works focusing on our rich history and vibrant future. Tonya is joined by Chef Brittney “Stikxz” Williams, developing a new seasoning blend that incorporates Caribbean influences over open-fire grilling.
“Imani (Faith)” | Cassava with Peanut Stew – On this day the focus is on spiritual faith, a faith in one’s infinite possibilities, and a faith that persists through life’s challenges and adversities. Tonya and her father, Dr. Thomas Parham, share space in their family kitchen while making a dish representative of Africans in the New World.
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