Food For Thought With Carla Hall and Tonya Hopkins

By Amanda Chambers

On this week's episode of Brooklyn Savvy, we are continuing our discussion of soul food with Carla Hall and featured guest Tonya Hopkins. As a food and beverage historian, Tonya offers compelling insight into the history of food in the United States and the often ignored contribution that African Americans have had in its development.

“Arguably, no other ethnic group is linked to American food the way that African Americans are.”
— Tonya Hopkins

Tonya Hopkins sheds a light on the history of American food and the facts about it that textbooks seem to neglect. She describes it as a "fusion food," citing Native Americans and enslaved Africans as some of its earliest influences. Slaves in particular were not given due credit for their knowledge and recipes; since they were considered property, their recipes belonged to their owners. Tonya and the panelistas consider how this aspect of history continues to affect black chefs even to this day.


“I think food is the one place we allow people to be different.”
— Carla Hall

Tonya Hopkins' interest in food and its place in history started when she was just a child. After studying anthropology and political science at the University of Pennsylvania, she worked in advertising before starting her career in food. Since then, she has co-founded the James Hemings Foundation, which is a nonprofit arts and education organization dedicated to preserving African American contributions to American food. Tonya is also a food and wine specialist at a wineshop in Brooklyn called Good Wine.

Be sure to tune in to hear the full discussion with Tonya Hopkins, Carla Hall, Toni, and the Savvy panelistas. Missed the episode yesterday? Don't worry! You can catch it again tonight at 7:30 pm and Thursday at 3:00 pm, or visit us online at