Favorite Cookbooks: Bryant Terry Recipe

Chef and cookbook author Bryant Terry shares his favorite cookbooks.

Favorite Cookbooks: Bryant Terry

Many of you know Bryant Terry. If you don't, I'm very happy to share him with you. He's a chef. He writes books. He's on TV, in lots of magazines, and with his latest project, a new cookbook, I suspect he will change the way many people think about African-American cuisine - what it is, and what it can be. Vegan Soul Kitchen just started shipping - the subtitle sums up the focus: Fresh, Healthy, and Creative African-American Cuisine. I saw an early version of VSK and loved it - the recipes, the unique and personal point of view, the way it encourages the reader to explore this rich culinary realm through a updated, fresh, bright, and healthy lens.

Bryant is fantastically talented, the work he is doing is important, and he was nice enough to share a few of his favorite cookbooks (and insights) with us.

BRYANT'S COOKING STYLE (in his own words):
Generally, I would describe my cooking style as ingredient-driven. I let the season's bounty dictate my everyday meals, cooking simple dishes using ingredients from our CSA box. On weekends and special occasions I get a little fancier. Coming off of my latest book (Vegan Soul Kitchen), I have been cooking a lot of "Afro-Diasporic Cuisine" - cutting, pasting, reworking, and remixing African, Caribbean, African American, Native American, and European staples, cooking techniques, and distinctive dishes to come up with something deliciously unique.

Right now, I primarily use cooking and other media to viscerally move people to be more aware of their environment and work towards a more healthy, just, and sustainable food system. And while my work with food is certainly inspired by other chef's and cookbook authors, I find a lot of inspiration from architects, activists, designers, filmmakers, musicians, painters, and photographers as well. (see Bryant's inspiration board below)

Bryant Terry Favorite Cookbooks

FAVORITE COOKBOOKS (the ones he turns to most often for recipes and inspiration):

- Peter Berley's The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen - This book inspired me to become a cookbook author. In fact, Vegan Soul Kitchen is heavily influenced by it - stylistically minimalist; focused on fresh, whole, and sustainable ingredients; and filled with information. In addition to being a chef, Peter is a jazz musician, and he brings his musical sensibilities to cooking and cookbook writing. So his work really resonates with me. Before I started writing Grub, my first book, I contacted Peter and asked if he would mentor me through the process. He continues to influence me to this day.

- Edna Lewis' The Taste of Country Cooking - The late Edna Lewis is one of my heroines. Similar to my latest book, her mission was to help people connect with the flavors of real food that she enjoyed growing up in the South. After taking New York City by storm with her take on Southern cuisine at Café Nicholson in the late 1940 and '50s, she went on to write several cookbooks that focused on seasonality and freshness. Her second cookbook, The Taste of Country Cooking had a major impact on my style of recipe writing. This book reads like a memoir infused with recipes, and it inspired me to draw heavily on history and memory in my own cookbook writing, which I often describe as "recipes as autobiography."

- Jessica B. Harris' The Africa Cookbook - Dr. Harris is a brilliant culinary historian and author. I'm most inspired by the confluence of intellectual rigor and soul that she brings to cookbook writing. In addition to the fact that this book celebrates the countries and people throughout the motherland whose contributions to the way we eat today have been ignored. I love the fact that she includes suggestions for menus, appropriate décor, and music.

- Myra Kornfeld's The Voluptuous Vegan - Myra was one of my teachers in culinary school, and I have always loved her cooking. This book showed me that I could compose a cookbook devoid of animal products that would blow people away!

- Heidi Swanson's Super Natural Cooking - At the risk of sounding like a sycophant...I remember seeing your book on display at a bookstore and speeding across the room to grab it because the cover was so striking. When I flipped through it I was floored. To this day, it is one of the best examples of "cookbook meets art book" that I have seen.

- Alice Water's The Art of Simple Food - This book re-inspired me to get back to the basics, and it influenced the way that I am cooking personally as well as professionally. I just started working on my third book, which guides readers in preparing simple, ingredient-driven home cooked meals using food from our home garden, CSA and local farmer's markets.

- Jamie Oliver's Jamie at Home - I've always been a big fan of Jamie's work. The bright, cheery photos and fun recipes of his early cookbooks make me happy. I especially like the informality that he brings to recipe writing (in my best British accent: "add a handful of parsley and a couple of glugs of olive oil."). I thought I was on the cutting-edge when I decided to focus on the domestic sphere for my next book...Then I discovered Jamie at Home. I love this book. The muted earth tones and matte pages mark an aesthetic departure from his earlier work, and this design choice is more in line with my personal style. I like the fact that he offers recipes made from ingredients from his "vegetable patch" and that he organizes the book by season. 'Nuff respect to Jamie. I'm happy to follow in his footsteps.

- Nate Appleman and Shelley Lindgren's A16: Food + Wine - This is the latest cookbook in my collection and one of my favorites. The book perfectly captures the relaxed and romantic vibe of the restaurant. The photographs are gorgeous and titillating. And I love the design. I have not tried any of the recipes yet, but If they are as good as the food at the restaurant...

Related links:

- Bryant Terry's website
- Bryant's new book Vegan Soul Kitchen

- Author photo by Sara Remington - It was really great to see her team up with Bryant on this book.

- Past cookbook list: Textile Designer Malinda Reich
- Past cookbook list: Fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi
- Past cookbook list: Grace Bonney of design*sponge
- Past cookbook list: Cookbook author Eric Gower

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Thanks for this lovely post. I just looked at the table of contents on Amazon. Wow! Citrus collards with raisins redux, watermelon slices with basil salt – every single recipe sounds so good.
I was also very excited to see that it isn’t a bean heavy cookbook. My husband is allergic to legumes and we can sub seitan for all of the tofu/tempeh/soy based recipes. I can’t wait to try it!


interesting article – and i love the references to all bryant’s favourite cookbooks. plus, as others have said, i do come here for the eye candy, and this article doesn’t disappoint! 😉


I just received my copy of Vegan Soul Kitchen today! I’m so excited! I love corn cakes or hot water cornbread so I’m anxious to try his Johnny Blaze Cakes. Yum yum yum!

I want Bryant

I love GRUB – It’s one of my favorite food books, I had blogged about it last summer:
AND I recommended it to someone today. How’s that for a coincidence? Thanks for the great interview!

Creme de la Mode

You guys are cracking me up.


According to this post that man has a great many things going for him but the only thing that comes to my mind is:
damn, he’s hot.


sounds interesting always good to try something new for family dinner thanks for the heads up on a new book


Heidi, I love that you featured Bryant Terry! He is clearly both a food visionary and a humanist, which is such a nice mix. I love to see foodies like him (and like you!) out in the world, promoting ways for producers and consumers alike to live longer, healthier, happier lives. Thank you for this gift!


Thank you so much for sharing this! I can’t wait to get the book. I’ve been looking at the reviews on Amazon and they are stellar! Plus, it doesn’t hurt that the chef is hot.


Hi there! I posted this morning on having fed my kids brussel sprouts last night. I used your recipe (and gave you credit). Thanks so much! They were a HUGE hit!!


As a health-conscious daughter of a seriously Southern cook, I look forward to Bryant’s new book!
And yes – agree with previous poster – he is totally hot!
Thanks, Heidi – love 101 Cookbooks!

Teresa Callahan

What a great website you have created. Thank you for bringing so many fresh, lively, healthful ideas. It’s neat to read about Bryant Terry’s influences, and I enjoy (and frequently send to friends and family) your recipes.


Great post-thanks! I just heard about the Oakland Food Connect event April 18th it sounds great, maybe I’ll run into you!


Couldn’t agree more with comments about Alice Water’s Art of Simple Food. There is, page after page, profound wisdom in the building-block techniques — read how to boil eggs or making vegetable soup for example. Likewise, Edna Lewis’ & Scott Peacock’s Gift of Southern Cooking is precisely that, a gift. Love your site, Heidi.


Couldn’t agree more with comments about Alice Water’s Art of Simple Food. There is, page after page, profound wisdom in the building-block techniques — read how to boil eggs or making vegetable soup for example. Likewise, Edna Lewis’ & Scott Peacock’s Gift of Southern Cooking is precisely that, a gift. Love your site, Heidi.


Sounds like a fascinating book. Can we see one typical recipe on your site so we can decide whether to buy it?

Jack Forrest

Thank you for the extensive tip about Vegan Soulfood, by Bryant Perry. I can’t wait to get a copy. You are not just a fantastic creator of great recipes but a person who extends your vision outward to new vistas of a bountiful food vocabulary. Ms. Swanson is a star.

Mauri Mollan

Vegan soul food? Awesome! I thought African American cuisine was basically closed to vegetarians, and I am delighted to find otherwise.

LA cook

I think what Bryant Terry has done for food justice is amazing! He spoke at my school, Augsburg College, in Minneapolis last year. Have him sing to you some time! 🙂
BTW, we love your blog and recipes in Minnesota, Heidi!


Those interested in meeting Bryant and sampling recipes from his recent cookbook, Vegan Soul Kitchen, should consider attending an upcoming dinner party to benefit the Oakland Food Connection.
The dinner takes place on April 18th and will highlight recipes from VSK. Wine and hors d’oeuvre will precede dinner and live entertainment.
Oakland Food Connection is a non-profit that is dedicated to increasing access to and understanding of healthy sustainable foods in Oakland communities.
For more information on this event, please contact info[*at*]foodcommunityculture[*dot*]org.


I just checked out the book on amazon (it has the look inside feature) and I have to have it! The recipes look so intriguing. Thanks for the great recommendation and info about Bryant.

Kristin @ De Nacho

My family doesn’t believe they’d like anything vegan (I indulge myself in vegan restaurants with my girlfriends), but…nothing like pulling the proverbial wool over their eyes in my own kitchen with a new book (they don’t have to read)! Thank you!


yes, he is lovely AND vegan
maybe I’ll run into him at a farmer’s market one day…

marie m

he sounds awesome! vegan soul food rocks.


“…using ingredients from our CSA box.”
Could you explain this for those of us who are living in Europe?


Heidi: I look forward to hearing more about your travels to Japan. I just spent New Year’s in Tokyo and Kyoto and brought back many wonderful ingredients to work with in the kitchen. Am a bit obsessed with umeboshi and different miso varieties right now. Would love to see your take on how your travels influenced your pantry and palate.


He’s an inspiration!

The Duo Dishes

I picked up a copy from my library yesterday and am looking forward to cooking from it this week.


I have been vegetarian for ages but vegan is a whole new world! I love milk, cheese and eggs!
Maybe Bryant’s new book will transform me.
Will keep you informed. By the way…what a hottie!!!

Shanta Sunderdas

Bryant sounds like a really interesting chef, thanks for introducing him Heidi!


Very cool interview and I’m glad to have another book to add to my wishlist!

Nicole (Sweetie Pie)

YES! Being from the south, it has always bummed me out that it’s so hard to find (or cook) vegan-friendly, southern style food. I can’t wait to buy Bryant Terry’s new cookbook.
And it doesn’t hurt that Mr. Terry is easy on the eyes. Mmmmm.


Many thanks for the update, very insightful! I would love to learn about African-American Cuisine.

Janet Ching

Does anyone know if Bryant has anything to do with Soul Vegetarian, an all vegan soul food restaurant in DC (and I believe other states)? Their food is amazing and healthy! Great post, Heidi!


As the daughter of a Southerner, I can’t wait to get vegan recipes for some of my former favorite foods!
Bryant is hot, smart and conscientious – and he can cook??? What a combo! Whew!


I’ve heard Bryant Terry before, so I cannot wait to read his book. I am African American, and my family is entrenched in Louisiana/Soul Food/Down Home/Creole cooking. I’ve been a vegetarian for almost 20 years, but I miss ‘soul food’. This book should give me the tools to get the rest of my family to eat healthier with the foods they grew up on.


Can’t wait to check it out. And Bryant is seriously super hot.


Thanks for an interesting and educational post!


Great listing of cookbooks. I’m looking forward to checking out Bryant’s book as well. Inspirational! — Life Chef

Life Chef

I purchased this cookbook a couple of weeks ago online and it is fabulous! I enjoyed the recipes and how he accompanies each with a suggested “soundtrack” from different types of soul music. I do agree, he is a nice looking, healthy looking man!


Thank you Heidi for featuring Bryant Terry’s new book. It arrived in my hands last week and I am so inspired by it. As an African American who grew up in a southern home but who has mystified my family by moving to a more healthful vegetarian way of eating, I am thrilled to find way that I can keep the spirit of my family traditions alive in a healthful, soulful way.


Sounds like it’s is going to be a great book, I can’t wait to check it out.
I love that Jamie oliver cookbook as well, but I am not so much a fan of the more negative stance he has taken in recent times. He was such a positive force, it is disappointing.


What a wonderful post! I’m so excited to check out his book…I totally agree with him on the Jamie Oliver book…I know it’s not that cool to like him, but the book is a bit of a guilty pleasure for me. A16 is fantastic as well!


fantastic article, loved all the information and being introduced to some great cookbooks. I would love to meet him in person, he sounds truly fascinating.


I’ve been hearing about Vegan Soul Kitchen! Sounds great. Sigh…so many cookbooks, so little time….and of course lately I get so many recipes online!

Michelle @ What Does Your Body Good?

great interview!
smart talented (and handsome) guy


Thanks for the info about Bryant Terry. Can’t wait to see his book.


this is a great post! thank you!!! I loved Jamie at Home!


Thanks for the introduction! I like features like this, in addition to your wonderful recipes.
(He is a handsome fellow, isn’t he?)

Brittany (He Cooks She Cooks)

very cool, thanks for sharing Heidi! Will have to check out his book and site.

Tabitha (From Single to Married)

Great post! I am very excited to see his new cookbook…


the pic is absolutely wonderful


This was a really great post. Thank you to both Bryant and Heidi! I love the appreciation of food + art/design you both seem to have.

ashley (sweet & natural)

This was a really great post. Thank you to both Bryant and Heidi! I love the appreciation of food + art/design you both seem to have.

ashley (sweet & natural)

Really interesting interview Heidi thanks for that – I will await Bryant’s book with interest although may have to borrow it from someone due to a self imposed cookbook boycott which is killing me.

Gourmet Chick

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