HULU’s “Searching for Soul Food”: Exploring Culinary Legacies Around the World With Chef Alisa Reynolds

Hulu’s new series, “Searching for Soul Food,” takes viewers on an international journey with renowned celebrity chef Alisa Reynolds. The show aims to discover what soul food truly looks like in different parts of the world while also delving into the stories, people, and traditions surrounding each culinary experience. Chef Reynolds explores the rich tapestry of flavors that make up soul food globally, from Mississippi to South Africa, Italy to Jamaica, and even Los Angeles.

In a recent interview during the AAFCA ROundtable series, Chef Reynolds shed light on her choices for the Los Angeles episode and what she wanted to highlight in her hometown. Some claim that LA lacks a distinct food culture, often associating it more with aesthetics and ambiance than exceptional cuisine. However, Chef Reynolds disagrees. She emphasizes the incredible diversity within LA and the multitude of culinary treasures hidden within the city’s borders.

One highlight of the Los Angeles episode is Woody’s Barbecue, a testament to the supportive and interconnected nature of the local food community. Chef Reynolds wanted to emphasize the spirit of collaboration and unity among black entrepreneurs. Woody’s Barbecue, a long-standing establishment that has weathered the storms of gentrification, symbolizes resilience and tradition. Through this example, Chef Reynolds inspires viewers to support one another and keep the legacy of black entrepreneurship alive.

Another fascinating aspect Chef Reynolds explores in LA is the influence of Korean culture on the city’s culinary landscape. Growing up near Korea Town, she was captivated by the prevalence of Korean barbecue and its fusion with other cuisines. The Korean community’s dedication to family and love, evident in their traditional practices like communal spa visits, serves as a source of inspiration. Chef Reynolds encourages viewers to embrace similar values of unity and appreciation for one another, emphasizing that celebrating our culture and heritage is not about exclusion but fostering love and understanding.

The episode also touches upon the historical significance of taco shops in LA. Chef Reynolds draws attention to the resilience of the people behind these establishments, who were once marginalized and worked under challenging conditions. Despite their difficult past, these individuals found strength in their faith and family ties, exemplifying the importance of gratitude and community support. Through their stories, Chef Reynolds aims to challenge preconceived notions and offer a fresh perspective on soul food.

“Searching for Soul Food” goes beyond mere culinary exploration. It celebrates the history, family bonds, and love that give soul food its true essence. Chef Reynolds strives to redefine soul food as a global phenomenon, breaking down barriers and encouraging viewers to appreciate different cultures’ rich traditions and legacies.

Chef Reynolds presents a compelling narrative that challenges misconceptions about the city’s food culture by highlighting the entrepreneurial spirit, unity, and cultural influences within Los Angeles. From Woody’s Barbecue to the fusion of Korean and American cuisines, viewers are taken on a journey that underscores the importance of community, love, and the power of embracing diverse culinary experiences.

“Searching for Soul Food” not only tantalizes the taste buds but also nourishes the soul. It reminds us of the deep connections between food, culture, and the human experience. Through Chef Reynolds’ passion and storytelling, viewers are inspired to explore the world of soul food, appreciating the flavors that unite us and the stories that shape our collective culinary heritage.

You can watch all eight episodes beginning June 2 on Hulu.