She's Got Flavor: Utokia Langley

 The family foodie and blogger of She's Got Flavor

Utokia Langley

Utokia Langley is a wife, mom, blogger, author, freelance writer, online cooking show host, entrepreneur and flavor enthusiast. Utokia is the proud writer and founder of the blog She's Got Flavor and the passionate host of the blog's cooking videos, which she uses as a platform to share simple and easy to follow flavorful recipes with the world.

She doesn't gravitate to cooking any specific culture. Her only requirement is that the dish has to have amazing flavor!

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Which African Americans in the food industry inspired you and how?

I am inspired by Leah Chase, Chef, Author, TV Personality and owner of the popular New Orleans restaurant Dookey Chase.  Her strength and determination inspires me.  With limited education she went from waiting tables to falling in love with food and mastering the art of cooking.  During a time when segregation was still wide spread, her restaurant Dookey Chase was known as a gathering place during the 1960s among many who participated in the Civil Rights movement.  And even as recent as 2005 when her restaurant was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, she reopened Dookey Chase in 2007.  She is a strong African American woman who doesn’t allow obstacles to get in the way.

I am also inspired by Miss Robbie from the popular OWN show “Welcome to Sweetie Pies” and owner of the restaurant “Sweetie Pies”.  I am inspired by Miss Robbie because she reminds me so much of my mother.  She is spunky, loves to cook and loves her family.  If you’ve seen the show you would know two things about Miss Robbie; don’t mess with her family and don’t fool around in her kitchen!  My mother who is 80 years old still cooks fabulous meals all while serving you a piece of her mind if you deserve it.  I learned a lot in my mother’s kitchen the same way Miss Robbie has taught her family.  Today I still call my mother when I have a cooking question because I know it’ll lead to a great recipe and a life lesson to partner.  I am also inspired by Miss Robbie’s entrepreneurial spirit.  She has opened two Sweetie Pie locations and working on a third called “Sweetie Pies: The Upper Crust”.

Lastly but not least I have to tell you how much Patrick and Gina Neely from the Popular Food Network Show “Down Home With The Neelys” and co-owners of Neely’s Bar-B-Que inspire me.  It is hard to express how wonderful I felt when I watched Down Home With The Neelys.  It is a show about great flavorful food but most importantly it is a positive image of African American families on TV.  With many dysfunctional images of the African American family on many TV shows, it was a breath of fresh air to see a happily married couple with two beautiful daughters who worked harmoniously as a team in the kitchen.   This is the image my husband and I set for our children and the image I hope to see more often on TV. 

Based on your experiences, why do you feel there is an underrepresentation of African Americans in the food blogging world?

Honestly I am not sure why there is an underrepresentation of African Americans in the food blogging world.  After all, historically African Americans are infamous for taking common ingredients and turning them into elaborate meals that keep you coming back for more.  It is the term “soul food” which was originated in the 1960s that makes your mouth water with the thought of flavorful foods like yams, macaroni and cheese, collard greens, ham hocks and corn bread.  One reason could be the lack of information available to African Americans on how to get into food blogging.  I know for me, if I’d known about the world of Food Blogging sooner, I would have started my food blog many years ago.

What do you think it will take to both raise the profile and increase African Americans' representation as food bloggers? 

I believe the African American profile in the food industry will increase when the number of African American hosted cooking TV shows that are produced is increased.  I also believe there would be an increase of African American food bloggers if big blog conferences would make a better effort to marketing their conferences to the African Americans community.  It would educate African Americans on the opportunities of food blogging.  There are African American men and women in their kitchens at this moment whipping up something extremely good and I am sure the world would love for them to share it!

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 Did you notice any of these themes?
Blogger and "Flavor Enthusiast" Utokia Langley is one of 15 culinary insiders that we interviewed as part of a special feature on Black chefs. We identified four themes that surfaced across many of their responses and in our research. Did you notice any? Select a theme to learn more.

The Facts vs. The Facts
* Perceptions of the Industry
* The Relevance of Color
* Exposure

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