Kardea Brown is hosted by Kardea Brown. Brown appeared as a guest or judge on Beat Bobby Flay, Cooks vs. Cons, Family Food Showdown, Farmhouse Rules, and Chopped Junior before taking the lead role on her show.
Although Brown is from South Carolina, her food is more influenced by her African heritage than by her upbringing in that state. Kardea descends from the Gullah/Geechee community of South Carolina, a former slave society that hung on to its traditions in the face of crushing suffering. As a result, Kardea’s food is distinctive from everything else you’ll find on Food Network.
Kardea Brown left her position in social services to try her hand at cooking for cameras
Kardea’s association with Food Network began after an ex-boyfriend emailed executives a tape of her cooking. Kardea was chosen by Food Network to work with Bobby Deen on a pilot episode out of hundreds of entries. She was adored by the network’s senior executives, but they thought she could improve her cooking. “I recall attending the Food Network’s inaugural meeting, where they declared, ‘We love you. Brown told Cuisine Noir, “You’re fantastic.
“But you’re too green” was a phrase they frequently used.
Kardea took the advice to heart and left her position as a social worker the next day. She traveled back to South Carolina in quest of culinary inspiration after selling all she owned. Brown eventually built out a place by sharing her unique culture with the world. She told Garden and Gun:
“But what might set me apart? Well, the food I cook is different. You can’t find it everywhere until you come to Charleston to eat it, so why not take Charleston to other places? I said, ‘I’m going to go on the road, and I’m going to share my culture with people.’”
Brown had an unflinching belief in her abilities, but some of her loved ones, most notably her grandmother Josephine, felt that she was making the wrong decision. However, her grandma changed her mind after Brown received her show on Food Network. “She said, ‘I’m proud of you,” Kardea told Garden and Gun. “I mean, words can’t explain how proud I am of you.”
Food Network kept tabs on Kardea until company executives felt that she was ready to star in her show. Kardea told Cuisine Noir that even then, there was no guarantee that Food Network would sign off on the series. She explained:
“I was told that there would be a 1% chance that the Food Network would say yes to me having my series. It’s been four years of really, really not giving up and knowing in my heart that there was a bigger story and bigger purpose for my life.”
Kardea Brown unique recipes descend from the African roots of her Gullah/Geechee community
As Brown traveled by train from New Jersey to Charleston, she thought about what would set her apart from her colleagues on television. Her mind settled on her proud Gullah/Geechee community in South Carolina. The community held on to most of its traditions during slavery and passed on unique aspects like recipes to future generations. She told Garden and Gun:
“I think the Gullah people laid the foundation for Southern cooking. Before farm-to-table was a fad, it was what Gullah people did, so I wanted to show the world that African American people don’t just fry chicken and eat collard greens swimming in meat. It’s very intentional on my part, to show a different part of the South.”
Kardea’s mom, Pat, learned how to cook from Kardea’s grandmother, and gradually passed on her skills to Brown. Josephine taught Kardea the basics of cooking, but Brown credits Pat for cultivating her love for cooking for entertainment. “She [Pat] always had big lavish birthday parties where she did all of the cooking, so I think that’s where I got the idea of cooking for entertaining and cooking for friends and family,” Brown said.
Delicious Miss Brown is as much a cooking show as it is a history lesson. Kardea explores the past by featuring her family members on the show and talking about the origins of their meals. She told Southern Living that she wants people to know that there is a different part to Charleston than what is normally represented.
Kardea isn’t averse to talking about sensitive issues. In one of the episodes of her show, Kardea faced opposition for talking about slavery. “I started talking about slavery, and people said, ‘We don’t know if we can say this,’” she told Southern Living. “I was like, ‘Why not? It’s the truth!’ Sadly, it is 2020, and we are still not ready to have that conversation.”
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