Bellevue College celebrated Thanksgiving two days early with some soul food. On Tuesday, Nov. 22, students shuffled in to C130 to line up for Soul Giving Dinner, a small event organized by the Black Student Union. The event was free and open to the public, but BSU limited the number of attendees to 50. With the food catered by Kristi Brown and her company That Brown Girl Cooks, the event gave attendees the opportunity to taste authentic soul cuisine while listening to Brown’s story of establishing her business.
That Brown Girl Cooks is a culinary business that offers a range of services. Aside from catering soul food, TBGC prepares and packages black-eyed pea hummus, a product that first launched their company, to be sold at 20 locations across Washington. “Where traditional hummus is subtle and earthy, TBGC’s black eyed pea hummus is a rich, tasteful, vivacious experience,” according to TBGC’s website.
In addition, Brown and her company is creating a series of interactive cooking classes. “I try to teach people how to eat locally and within a budget,” said Brown. Her goal through these classes is to provide healthy, affordable and locally produced meal plans for individuals and their families.
TBGC is the manifestation of Brown’s culinary vision. For Brown, providing people with basic nutritional sustenance is very important to her. “I think it’s really important to find out what’s important to you right now,” Brown advised, “Anybody can snatch your money. Then what will you have and what will you give if you don’t have anything that somebody can take away?”
“For me, it’s giving people good food whether that means the tools to provide good food for themselves, to provide you with fresh food that you haven’t eaten all day, linking you with other people who can provide good food,” shared Brown.
TBGC’s mission and motto is also aligned with Brown’s beliefs. “At the end of the day, everybody’s gotta eat,” is the mantra that TBGC posts on their website. “If some hands can bless it before it moves on to you, then that makes it so much better,” said Brown.
At the Soul Giving Dinner, Brown served injera, an Ethiopian sourdough flatbread, black eyed pea hummus with Ethiopian spices, asparagus wrapped in turkey bacon, mac and cheese, an assortment of roasted vegetables, chicken kebabs, mini pies and lemonade.
“The food we had tonight was a mixture of both soul food and African cuisine,” explained BSU Coordinator Torey Robinson about the event’s dishes, “It doesn’t have too many ingredients, but we know what spices and what flavors would go together.”
“That’s exactly why we chose Kristi to cater the event because she’s good at what she does. You get people like Kristi who incorporate African spices. There’s set foods that are considered soul food, but when you can create and intertwine African cultures into it, things start to go different, but it’s not a bad thing,” Robinson noted.
The event was a way for BSU and African Student Association to bond with each other as well as other students in the community. “It was really for BSU and ASA to bond. We just wanted everyone to come and bond over a dinner,” said Robinson. “We just wanted to have a dinner-feel. We don’t go to many events in Bellevue College with this kind of style of food.”
BSU plans to hold more events during future quarters. For Black History Month in February, BSU is coordinating a few students to travel to Yale University to learn more about african american history and present day struggles. In addition, there will be another soul food event, which may feature similar foods as the Soul Giving Dinner. For Valentine’s Day, BSU will hold a speed dating style event, where attendees can win gift bags and the club can fundraise for the upcoming school year.