NEW YORK (CBS New York) — Black History Month celebrates our history and that includes food culture. Chefs from all walks of life have helped shape American cuisine, but that’s not the only way to influence.
CBS2’s Steve Overmyer spent a day with a man who captures those moments to share with the world.
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In every kitchen, every culinary artist brings their own tools. Some are razor sharp, while others are sharp.
“The draw is that I want to know these stories, so I have my camera with me to tell them. But it’s my own curiosity that draws me in,” said Clay Williams.
Williams is a renowned food photographer. He has contributed to The New York Times and Zagat’s. His vision has become a staple of high-end food photography. As Williams films the food, he adds to the atmosphere.
“I think being able to talk to them and connect with them makes them feel a little bit comfortable,” Williams said.
On a recent night out at Brooklyn Point, chef Lana Lagomarsini and chef Nana Wilmot were cooking up dishes partly inspired by Ghanaian delicacies. Both have worked in Michelin-starred restaurants.
As in the kitchen, the best dishes are sometimes those that contain the most diverse ingredients.
“The more people you have from different backgrounds, different flavors, different cuisines, the more perspectives you have and the more likely you are to create new and interesting things,” Williams said.
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What makes his art special is the people.
“A lot of times they tell me, ‘This is what I do,'” Williams said, adding that it sounded genuine. When asked if it was his superpower, Williams laughed, “I don’t know if it’s a superpower. I just like connecting with people.
Williams has become more of a connector helping black food professionals. He is the co-creator of BlackFoodFolks.com, which started as a blog but grew into a community.
“In the food industry, it always seems like there aren’t a lot of black people in the industry, but it turns out there are a lot. They just don’t get a lot of attention” , Williams said.
Black Food Folks helps the community with events and podcasts, and last year gave $50,000 in grants to black-led businesses.
“One of the things Black Food Folks is emphasizing is that there’s no shortage of black people in the industry, and they have stories to tell,” said Williams.
It’s a reminder that chefs are just as interesting as their edible art.
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If you would like to join the conversation in the Black Food Folks community, please click here.