In celebration of Black History Month, we’re honoring the unique stories + experiences of the people who make up the many layers of our community. Chef Kevin Mitchell is a Chef Instructor at the Culinary Institute of Charleston at Trident Technical College, historian, and scholar of historical foodways of the American South. He works tirelessly to preserve southern ingredients and champions the historical significance of African Americans in the culinary arts.
who taught you to cook and how do you honor them?
“My grandmother Doris taught me to cook and love of food at the age of 6. Most people know I have three brothers and grew up in a single-parent home. That meant we spent a lot of time with her. When we were with her, she would make me stay in the house with her and began teaching me how to cook. I never understood why and one day I asked why I could not go and play with my brothers. She explained to me that one day she or my mother would not be there to cook meals for me or do my laundry. My response was well, what about the others? they do not need to know those things, lol. So I believe at that time she saw something in me that would turn into a career in food. When I was 7 I was watching a news program about the Culinary Olympics and was fascinated by seeing people in crisp white jackets and tall white hats preparing these elaborate dishes. The one major thing I noticed was that no one there looked like me and decided that I could do that and made the decision to become a chef. I believe I honor her by being an educator, teaching people not only the love of food but connecting them to the stories centered around food.”
How has food influenced who you are as a person?
“I believe food is a part of who I am. In the work that I do as a chef instructor, and food historian, food is always at the center.”
What legacy do you want to leave?
“When someone thinks of Chef Kevin Mitchell, I want them to say that he was passionate about food, he was passionate about sharing the stories of the people connected to food, and that he was never afraid to tell those stories even when they made people uncomfortable.”