TV host, writer and editor Toni Tipton-Martin was among groups of people invited to the White House by former First Lady Michelle Obama, not once but twice. The recipient of “Southern Foodways Alliance John Egerton Prize,” she is the author award-winning books Jubilee: Recipes From Two Centuries of African American Cooking and The Jemima Code: Two Centuries of African American Cookbooks.
A native of Los Angeles, California who now resides in Baltimore, the multi-talented author is the recipient of a long list of impressive honors, awards, and appearances. Tipton-Martin continues to “cook up” success. She is the recipient of the seventh annual “Julia Child Award.”
Created by The Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts, the award is given to an individual or team who has made a profound and significant difference in the way America cooks, eats, and drinks.
“It’s an exhilarating acknowledgement of the work that I have spent years building,” said Tipton-Martin. “I have been trying to draw attention to African Americans in the food industry, and to change the image and expression of folks and what we think about them. So, this is an enormous, and important acknowledgement of that work.”
Tipton-Martin will receive the award on November 4, 2021, at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.— the home of Julia Child’s kitchen. The award is accompanied by a $50,000 grant from the Foundation, which is one of the leading grant-giving private foundations solely dedicated to supporting the field of gastronomy and the culinary arts.
Each year, the recipient receives a uniquely designed award engraved with his/he name and year of honor, along with the $50,000 grant, which benefits the food-related non-profit of the recipient’s choosing.
“Growing up in Los Angeles was wonderful,” she said. “I developed my appreciation for diversity and inquisitiveness, the community that I grew up in, and I was part of the first group of kids to be bused out of our neighborhoods and sent to other communities beyond our own. All those things had a great influence on my work. It was also where I became interested in Journalism.”
Tipton-Martin is the Editor-in-Chief of Cook’s Country magazine and will soon be a host on the PBS show. She has published in Best Food Writing of 2016.
“I will continue to take my message to bigger and bigger audiences and now through PBS, I will be able to share my message on another level. I’m really excited,” she said.
In 2008, Tipton-Martin founded The SANDE Youth Project as a grassroots outreach to improve the lives of vulnerable families. SANDE presented an after-school cooking program for elementary school age kids and invited high school culinary students to cook at the James Beard House. She will use the $50,000 grant that accompanies the Julia Child Award to focus its mentoring and training activities on the next generation food writers.
“The role of food writing is an important one that has been dismissed or treated dismissively over the years,” she said. “Hopefully, this Award, and the level of acknowledgement will open eyes to journalism programs, Black journalists and other journalists and organizations representing people of color, and that journalists have an important role in excavating and uncovering stories.”
Tipton-Martin, 62, has also appeared as a guest judge on Bravo’s Top Chef and was featured on CBS Sunday Morning’s annual Food Show. She has been a featured speaker at the Library of Congress, and many universities. In 2005, she published a historic reprint of an early 20th century cookbook, The Blue Grass Cook Book, by Minnie C. Fox, containing the first known photographs of African American cooks. She is also co-author of A Taste of Heritage: New African American Cuisine.
“The stories that I uncovered in my books, were languishing in scholarship,” she said. “It’s not like I have written something new. I utilized Journalism, one-on-one skills, and spent a lot of time in research, looking for the voices of real people to tell a different story about who our people have been, as a means of inspiring the next generation. We have kids that are lost and have few options because we’ve narrowly defined what success looks like in our community.”
“And yet people right here in Baltimore, people have obtained their independence by being vendors and arabbers, and those are valuable careers that aren’t in vogue, popular, or whatever the trendy terminology is today. We haven’t shown real careers respect and we haven’t treated Food Writing as a career with dignity. This award touches so many opportunities beyond getting young people motivated in careers in the food world that don’t necessarily involve service and cooking.”
To learn more about the Julia Child Award, visit juliachildaward.com.