Love, compassion, and creativity—these ingredients give soul food its distinctive flavor. From the Mississippi Delta to South Africa, soul food has a rich and complex history that reflects the experiences and struggles of African diaspora communities worldwide.
In the new culinary series “Searching for Soul Food,” now streaming on Hulu, celebrity chef Alisa Reynolds explores what soul food looks like in and out of the diaspora. The six-episode series takes viewers to diverse locations such as Mississippi, Oklahoma, Appalachia, South Africa, Italy, Jamaica, Peru, and finally, Los Angeles. Through interviews, cooking demonstrations, and dish stories from local chefs and home cooks, the show highlights the cultural significance of soul food and its evolution over time.
Soul food emerged from the forced migration of enslaved Africans to the Americas and evolved out of the need to make the most of limited resources while preserving cultural traditions. In an interview, Reynolds shared her thoughts on whether soul food can exist beyond the historical context of the struggle that birthed it. She reflected, “While the roots of soul food lie in historical challenges, its essence can transcend those boundaries. Love, compassion, and creativity can infuse soulfulness into cuisine, irrespective of social or economic circumstances.”
From the rural Mississippi Delta to the vibrant streets of Los Angeles, each episode showcases a different setting that highlights the soul food traditions of the region.
Throughout the season, viewers can expect captivating and informative episodes that delve into the diverse world of soul food. Continuing her journey, Reynolds starts the season exploring the roots of soul food in Mississippi and delves into its influence on the vibrant local culture.
Reynolds also travels to Oklahoma and connects with the local indigenous community, shedding light on the rich traditions of foraging and highlighting the profound significance of food in their culture.
Naples becomes the next stop on Reynolds’ journey as she immerses herself in the world of Neapolitan pizza. She learns about the exacting traditions and techniques behind this beloved dish, gaining a newfound appreciation for the artistry involved. Through her exploration, viewers discover the roots of Neapolitan pizza and its deep cultural significance.
Another captivating destination is Lima, where the show explores the impact of colonization and resilience of the Nikkei people and their vibrant food culture. As viewers immerse themselves in each season, they will discover the fascinating world of “Searching For Soul Food” and gain a deeper understanding of soul food’s incredible diversity and influence worldwide.
Throughout the series, Reynolds encounters surprising connections and unearths hidden stories behind soul food. Reynolds acknowledges the historical challenges that shaped the origins of soul food. Yet, she believes that the core elements of love, compassion, and creativity can elevate any cuisine to embody soulfulness.
By showcasing the resilience and creativity of the communities she visits, Reynolds demonstrates that soul food is not limited by struggle but is a testament to the indomitable spirit of humanity. Reynolds hopes the series will educate and inspire viewers to rethink their assumptions about food and its connections to culture and history. She believes every dish has a story and a deeper meaning waiting to be explored.
Alongside her culinary adventures, Reynolds owns the restaurant My 2 Cents in Los Angeles, a favorite spot among many celebrities, including Stevie Wonder. “Searching for Soul Food” is a captivating culinary series that transcends borders and connects communities through the universal language of food.
Through exploring soul food’s diverse manifestations, Reynolds showcases the power of love, compassion, and creativity to transform a simple meal into a soulful experience. As viewers embark on this gastronomic journey with Reynolds, they will be inspired to savor every bite, knowing that what they are experiencing is more than just a dish—a celebration of heritage and resilience.