OWN and Discovery+ are welcoming the competitive cooking show The Great Soul Food Cook-Off to their services on November 20th. In a joint statement, OWN and Discovery+ describe the show as, “a cooking competition that finally spotlights the culinary contributions of Black chefs with challenges designed to highlight the past and present of soul food.”
After the success of Netflix’s High on the Hog, it is apparent now more than ever that there is a desire for diversified content across all genres of television. With the influx of at-home content throughout the pandemic, increases in cooking shows are a natural progression for major streaming studios. Like High on the Hog, The Great Soul Food Cook-Off positions itself as a platform to celebrate Black chefs and Black cuisine, something that is often overlooked on mainstream cooking shows.
The popularity of High on the Hog is reflective of the cultural movements of today. America, and the world at large, is being challenged to grapple with its racist past and present. As conversations about white supremacy, equity, and reparations continue to make their way into the mainstream, shows like The Great Soul Food Cook-Off are great vessels for sharing Black culture without only focusing on trauma. Across all cultures, food holds significance beyond nourishment. So many recipes are passed down from generation to generation and reflect the history, lifestyles, environment, and traditions of their culture.
What made High on the Hog more than an ordinary travel food show was its ability to paint a picture that was true to history while still amplifying the love and joy that goes into Black cuisine. Yes, many soul food dishes were created out of necessity; historically Black people have been prevented access to the same quality of food as white people. However, soul food has become so much more than a progression of “slave food,” it is also a type of cuisine that has impacted the globe and serves as yet another example of the persistence of Black culture against all odds.
While The Great Soul Food Cook-Off is a competition show, where eight chefs compete to win a grand prize of $50,000, as opposed to the documentary format of High on the Hog, both programs are a celebration of Blackness. These programs invite viewers of all races into the world of Black Americans, allowing everyone to understand the world a little bit better. As Tina Perry, president of OWN said in a press release, “soul food originated in the earliest African American communities and describes a style of cuisine that represents the creativity and skill of Black cooks from many cultures within the African diaspora.”
Airing every other Saturday, The Great Soul Food Cook-Off features chefs from across the country and will kick off with a bang as the chefs are challenged to pay homage to soul food’s famous “meat and three” tradition. Food Network’s Kardea Brown will host with Eric Adjepong and Melba Wilson, along with other Black chefs, joining as hosts.