Set up by chef, author and activist, Zoe Adjonyoh, Dr Anna Sulan Masing, a London-based food, drink and culture journalist, poet and academic; and Frankie Reddin, a communications consultant and project manager, Black Book is a global representation platform for Black and non-white people working within hospitality and food media.
Launched in response to the obvious lack of representation and radical spaces within the UK for Black and non-white people working in food, Black Book intends to inspire and empower through enhancing equality, equity, and worldwide wealth creation within these communities. The platform also looks to raise global consciousness of the issues affecting their ability to thrive in these industries.
On travels to the US, specifically New York, Zoe Adjonyoh found the UK lacked collegiate representation seen in platforms and collectives such as Black Food Folks, Radical Exchange, and Equity At The Table.
“To be in spaces curated by Black people for Black people to be supported, network and connect at all levels of the industry is my experience of the radical and collegiate Black communities in food and beverage in the states and the wider variety of platforms for diverse representation for a career in the states was the prime motivation for my impending move to New York,” Adjonyoh says. “The absence of any such network in the UK left me frustrated and so I imagined what good representation and community would look like and the idea for Black Book was born back in late 2018 – The vision for Black Book was so large I needed to enlist a team who shared my concerns, shared in the idea for a solution and shared in the bold vision to de-colonise the food industry worldwide and without delay I approached Anna and Frankie.”
Back in the UK, the three founders combine their knowledge and experience of the industry from their individual perspectives of working in restaurants, food writing and communications. The ultimate aim is to provide the world’s premier talent and thought leadership platform, aiming to support achievement in personal and career growth objectives while advocating for those in the community to gain the appropriate recognition, visibility and rewards for the work they do in hospitality. In order to make this happen, Black Book will partake in brand partnerships, collaborations with institutions, community building and consultancy, amongst other services and resources.
As Black Book builds momentum towards their launch, the team understands the work required to change the systemic inequalities and erasure of Black and non-white voices in hospitality and food is deep and long.
Black Book has, therefore, designed a series of talks to help the platform identify and examine the key issues needing to be addressed. ‘De-colonising the food industry’ is an eight-week series hosted as webinars on Zoom and IG Live every Sunday from 2pm-3.30pm. Invited guests join Adjonyoh, Masing and resident panellists Eileen Twum (ex-Management Consultant and start-up executive who set up and launched the London arm of The Infatuation) and Fozia Ismail (academic, cook and founder of Arawelo Eats, a platform for exploring East African food), to examine different topics that get to the heart of these issues. Previous talks have centred on the likes of “Publishing: what the #publishingpaidme hashtag revealed”, or “Food News, Media & Magazines”.
Taking place on Sunday 26th July, this weekend’s talk covers “Funding & Investment: access & support”, discussing who is able to access money and is trusted with loans and grants; how business information is accessed; what food means to white investors; and questioning where does the power, wealth and equity sit when food from the Global South is being served?
The talks are free to watch live via Zoom, with donations encouraged. Further information on Black Book and details of panellists and topics can be found on the platform’s website.