Also known as ‘Chef Goddess’, Chef Kristi Brown-Wokoma has been serving up soulful deliciousness since 1986. Her brand focuses on the art and experience of food through Culinary Activism, or the cultivation of fresh food and cooking as a means to bring people together and help heal communities through the love and medicine of food.
With 23 years of cooking experience under her belt, the Chef Goddess has worked her way up from working front and back of house to creating a Seattle town favorite, That Brown Girl Catering, which has been transformed into That Brown Girl Cooks! She is currently involved with creating the Seattle Center Festál cookbook and you can see her demonstrating her skills at Festál Family Day “Edible Seattle” at MOHAI on Feb 18th! Let’s find out more about Kristi!
What role do you see Festál playing in the greater community?
Festál is an birds eye experience of what Seattle has long been. A distinct celebration of several cultures throughout the entire year, not on a designated federal holiday. Festál has taken the initiative to give us an opportunity to learn, celebrate and actively take part in cultures that we may be a part of or are curious about. That helps us see the connections more so than the differences.
Why do you think Festál has endured for so long?
I believe Festál has lasted so long because at the core spirit of Seattle, there is a deep desire to honor the people of the land and the dedication to continue to create even more community.
How does food and cooking nurture the passing down of cultural traditions? And of cultural, ethnic identity?
Next to sex, I believe food is the most powerful medium to bring people together. So families, even when they are not talking to one another, will share a meal. We speak out our joys and grievances over food. We seek solace and comfort in the warm kitchen. And these meals tell the stories, the tales of who we are, where we came from and it all amalgamates in the pot. And those stories are passed on from one generation to another. It truly is magical.
Please share a memory connected to creating the Festal cookbook that was meaningful to you?
There are so many….
I think it’s more of a behind the scene thing. We truly had no idea what we were getting into. Meaning the intricacies of each cultures food, the techniques, the respect for authenticity….it guided everything we did. But my crew??? They were phenomenal!!! While we were making the Irish Cake, one of the volunteers, Trenita Harris, who is an amazing pastry chef, saw that I was clueless when it came to part of the decorating of the cake. It was pretty extensive, and we were working on a tight tight deadline. She actually took the cake home, after working her regular graveyard shift and a full shift helping cook/bake for the cookbook and totally decorated the cake in marzipan…it was amazing!!! The dedication that everyone bought to the table….was unparalleled! I’m so grateful for the entire crew….WE DID IT!!!
What would you like to see for the future of Northwest Folklife?
I would like to see it listed a pre-requisite for every newcomer to Seattle, because if you don’t take part in this celebration, you will never truly understand the spirit in our land. And if you don’t understand us, you will disrespect what we’ve built.
Please finish this sentence: ‘folklife is…
Folklife is like soup. I’ll go even further and say…It’s like Pho. The rich broth brings together each individual ingredient. But not even one of the ingredients are lost, they all stand out, to make the most prolific soup possible!!!