In a restaurant, the walk-in refrigerator is the place where workers go to take a breath or let it all out. The name of our new podcast is a metaphor for the kinds of conversations host Elle Simone Scott has with her guests in our new podcast.
About The Walk-In
The Walk-In considers the reality of "making it" in the culinary industry. Elle explores the unheard stories of the food world’s difference makers, including chefs, writers, entrepreneurs, and media personalities. What really happens between their first day and overnight success? A lot—but it's rarely discussed beyond a small circle of trusted friends.
Unfiltered and unexpected, The Walk-In has the conversations you won’t hear anywhere else: the raw, real truth about the moments that defined their careers and lives. Elle and her guests talk, in a real way, about passion, the “isms,” and turning points of a culinary life. Nothing is off limits.
With this podcast, Elle continues her career-long mission of advocating and opening doors for others. The social-worker-turned-culinary-leader, Elle is the founder of SheChef, Inc., a professional networking organization and social enterprise, where she provides mentoring to women chefs of color. And since joining America's Test Kitchen in 2016 as a cast member and food stylist, Elle has become an executive editor and the company's Inclusion Leader, guiding the company's internal Diversity Council with their mission to promote a culture of inclusion with a specific focus on recruiting, mentorship, representation, equity and retention at America’s Test Kitchen.
Where to Listen
The first episode of The Walk-In dropped August 5th and new episodes go live every Wednesday. You can listen on one of the platforms below or any other place you listen to podcasts. Never want to miss an episode? Subscribe for free on your favorite podcast platform, and get new episodes in your feed each week.
8/5/20 Episode One: “Y’all not gonna kill me” with Kia Damon
In the debut episode of The Walk-In, Elle talks with Kia Damon about being a Black woman in the culinary industry, her lifechanging move from Florida to New York City, work/life balance, and imposter syndrome.
About Kia Damon: Named one of The New York Times' 16 Black Chefs Changing Food In America in 2019, Damon made a name for herself as the 24-year-old executive chef of New York City's Lalito restaurant, which earned her praise in media outlets from Grubstreet to Vogue. After leaving the restaurant, the self-taught chef became the first Culinary Director for Cherry Bombe Magazine. She now hosts Cherry Bombe's podcast and started Supper Club From Nowhere, which combats food injustice by bringing fresh ingredients to locales affected by food deserts.
8/12/20 Episode Two: “I was born by myself” with C. Hunter Zuli
In the second episode of The Walk-In, Elle speaks with C. Hunter Zuli about her journey to becoming the premier curator of supper clubs centered on the cultural experience of the African diaspora.
About C. Hunter Zuli: After spending 14 years working in education and advocacy and hosting dinner parties on the side, Zuli decided to devote herself full-time to her passion: cooking and creating community. She founded BLK PALATE, an inclusive food and wellness production company, through which she curates monthly events based around inclusivity, education, and delicious food. She’s also the owner and operator of WICHY, a mobile sandwich shop inspired by street food and home cooking around the world, and the co-founder and brand manager of Looks By Lo, an inclusive beauty, grooming, and personal care brand.
8/19/20 Episode Three: “Not about the prize until the end” with Rahanna Bisseret Martinez
Elle talks with Top Chef Junior season 1 runner up Rahanna Bisseret Martínez about staging in kitchens around the country and being a young black woman growing up in the culinary industry.
About Rahanna Bisseret Martinez: Martinez is a 16-year-old chef from Oakland, CA. She first started cooking with her mom in the kitchen when she was six years old, and by age 10, she was researching recipes and experimenting in the kitchen. When she was 13, Rahanna launched her culinary career by competing on Top Chef Junior, where she came in second place. After Top Chef, Rahanna went on to stage at restaurants all over the world. An advocate for using fresh produce and incorporating vegetables heavily into her cooking, Rahanna likes to support women and POC farmers and wholesale distributors when sourcing her ingredients.
8/26/20 Episode Four: “I cook innocently” with Omar Tate
Omar Tate, creator of Honeysuckle, talks to Elle about his culinary journey—from working in high-end restaurants to producing pop-up dinner events that explore the narrative of the Black existence through food. Tate also shares his vision to build a food-based community center in Philadelphia.
About Omar Tate: A native of Philadelphia, Tate has spent the last 10 years working in some of the best restaurants in New York City and Philly, including A Voce, Fork, Meadowsweet, Runner and Stone, and Russet. He’s also the mind behind Honeysuckle, a pop-up dinner series turned takeout program dedicated to exploring Black heritage through food using various forms of art to bring stories to the plate and engage with diners. He also recently started a new fundraising campaign to raise money to acquire a building for a community center that uses food as a conduit for social progression in West Philly. He plans to sell bean pies for $100 each and ship them across the country in an attempt to raise $100K over the summer. This unique idea was inspired by his Philly upbringing, which was steeped in radical activation and engagement.
9/2/20 Episode Five: “Write it because you have to” with Dr. Jessica B. Harris
Food historian, author, and educator Dr. Jessica B Harris gives Elle advice only an Auntie can. They talk about growing up as an only child, the magic of HBCUs, and how the pandemic has changed Dr. Harris's perspective.
About Jessica B. Harris: According to Heritage Radio Network, there’s perhaps no greater expert on the food and foodways of the African Diaspora than Dr. Jessica B. Harris. She is the author of twelve critically acclaimed cookbooks documenting the foods and foodways of the African Diaspora. Her book, High on the Hog: A Culinary Journey from Africa to America, was the International Association for Culinary Professionals 2012 prize winner for culinary history. Dr. Harris has been honored with many awards, including a lifetime achievement award from the Southern Foodways Alliance (of which she is a founding member) and Soul Summit, the first national gathering of African Americans working in and studying all aspects of food.
9/9/20 Episode Six: "Secret Black conversations" with Colleen Vincent and Clay Williams
Colleen Vincent and Clay Williams, founders of Black Food Folks, talk to Elle about visibility, community and opportunity for Black professionals in the food and drink industry. They discuss Black joy, the future of the Black food community, and creating crucial change through financial investments.
About Colleen Vincent: Colleen Vincent has worked for the James Beard Foundation for over 14 years and is a vocal champion for diverse leadership in all sectors of the hospitality industry. She has been featured on panels at the Food Book Fair and the Minority Chef Summit and also represented the Foundation as a member of the High Road Restaurant Roundtable. She sat on the James Beard Foundation Food Conference steering committee and is presently a member of the House Programming Committee. She is a proud member of the West Indian Chefs Alliance.
About Clay Williams: Clay Williams is a Brooklyn-based photographer specializing in food, drinks and events. He photographs assignments for The New York Times, The James Beard Foundation, and The Wall Street Journal. Clay is a member of the board of Slow Food NYC and with Colleen Vincent is a co-founder of Black Food Folks, a fellowship of Black professionals in food media, service, and events. His latest book, 111 Rooftops in New York That You Must Not Miss, was published March 2019.
9/16/20 Episode Seven: “A tasting a spoon in my hand and a Sharpie in the other” with Mashama Bailey
Mashama Bailey, executive chef and co-founder of The Grey in Savannah, Georgia, talks to Elle about cooking with intention, developing confidence in the kitchen, and balancing creative energy with business savvy. They share their experiences in social work, reminisce about the good old days, and discuss staying humble in the spotlight.
About Mashama Bailey: A New York City native, Bailey grew up between Queens and Waynesboro, Georgia, and was taught to cook by her grandmothers, aunts, and mom. After graduating from culinary school at ICE, she spent a dozen years cooking throughout New York City, including a four-year stint at Prune, under the tutelage of her friend and mentor, Gabrielle Hamilton. Bailey is the executive chef of The Grey Market, where she cooks food inspired by Southern lunch counters and New York City bodegas—places that have formed her as a chef. Her work at The Grey has earned her a number of accolades, including James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef Southeast award in 2019. She also serves as Vice Chairman on the board of the Edna Lewis Foundation, working to preserve and celebrate Edna’s legacy, which has heavily influenced her menu at The Grey.
9/23/20 Episode Eight: "No one's going to dull your rainbow" with V. Spehar
V Spehar, a long-time advocate for food justice and the LGBTQIA+ communities talks to Elle about starting a career in theater, taking on jobs in catering and hospitality and eventually becoming the Director of Impact & Women’s Programs at the James Beard Foundation, where up until recently they worked to increase the number of woman-identifying leaders and owners across the culinary and hospitality fields. V also shares exciting news about their next gig!
About V. Spehar: Over the course of their career in the hospitality industry, V. Spehar has held every job from dishwasher to Director of Impact for the James Beard Foundation. They are currently the Executive Director of Impact for Everything Food, an online platform empowering people to make informed food choices. Much of their career has been dedicated to making food and the food industry accessible and inclusive. They are a founding board member of the Queer Food Foundation and creator of the harvestRX program, which matches chronically ill patients with fresh, free produce boxes. They are also a keynote speaker and motivational coach, and part of #TeamFlakeySalt on TikTok (@mxvs13) where they cook up comedic commentary on the industry and zero-waste meals.
9/30/20 Episode Nine: "There's no one perfect time" with Bryant Terry
Bryant Terry, a food justice activist and James Beard Award-winning cookbook author, talks to Elle about food access, veganism, and everyday acts of resistance. They share the challenges and triumphs of publishing cookbooks, advocating for your vision, and creating space for marginalized voices in food.
About Bryant Terry: Bryant Terry is a chef, educator, and author renowned for his activism to create a healthy, just, and sustainable food system. Since 2015 he has been the Chef-in-Residence at the Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD) in San Francisco where he creates public programming at the intersection of food, farming, health, activism, art, culture, and the African Diaspora. In regard to his work, Bryant’s mentor Alice Waters says, “Bryant Terry knows that good food should be an everyday right and not a privilege.” San Francisco Magazine included Bryant among 11 Smartest People in the Bay Area Food Scene, and Fast Company named him one of 9 People Who Are Changing the Future of Food.
10/7/20 Episode Ten: "Wrap my arms around my identity" with Lucky Michaels
Lucky Michaels, a trans rights activist and mixologist featured by the James Beard Foundation, talks to Elle about pay equity, meaningful activism, and mixology as a platform for advocacy. Elle and Lucky discuss the importance of building community, creating sustainable change, and raising the bar for trans rights and visibility.
About Lucky Michaels: Lucky Michaels is a trans activist and international speaker. She is the first transgender woman ever to be featured by the James Beard Foundation and is currently a mixologist at Storico in the Landmark New-York Historical Society. Lucky likes to mix some history into the cocktail shaker as she draws you in with her passion for hospitality. Over her 20 years working in trans-related agencies, she has been the director of a shelter for homeless LGBTQ youth and currently holds a seat on The National Advisory Council for LGBTQ Youth. Also an established photographer, her photography has been celebrated globally and she is well known for her book Shelter, which was featured in the New York Times and landed her on the inaugural list of The Advocate Magazine's Top 40 Advocates Under 40.
10/14/20 Episode Eleven: "The color of soil" with Karen Washington
Karen Washington steps off her farm and into The Walk-In to talk with Elle about empowering Black Americans to take back power through farming, her work with community gardens in NYC, and the struggles of being a single mother.
About Karen Washington: As a community gardener and board member of the New York Botanical Garden, Washington works with Bronx neighborhoods to turn empty lots into community gardens. She is also an advocate and the former president of the New York City Community Garden Coalition, which works for garden protection and preservation. As a co-founder of the La Familia Verde Garden Coalition, she helped launch a City Farms Market, bringing fresh vegetables to the Bronx community. In 2010, she co-founded Black Urban Growers (BUGS), an organization supporting Black growers in both urban and rural settings. In 2012, Ebony magazine voted her one of their 100 most influential African-Americans in the country. And in 2014, she was the recipient of the James Beard Leadership Award. Since retiring from physical therapy in 2014, she has been a co-owner and organic grower at Rise & Root Farm in Chester, New York.
10/21/20 Episode 12: "We are primed to be entrepreneurs" with the McBride Sisters
Robin and Andréa McBride talk about growing up in different parts of the world—not knowing the other existed. After family members connected them, the sisters discovered they shared more than genetics—they also shared a passion for wine. They talk to Elle about their journey, following their dreams, and founding the largest black-owned wine company in country.
About the McBride Sisters: Sisters Robin and Andréa McBride were raised in California and New Zealand, respectively, and each had developed a love of wine by the time they learned of each other’s existence and met for the first time in 1999. After spending time together traveling to wine regions around the world to fine-tune their craft, they created the McBride Sisters Wine Collection, now the largest Black-owned wine company in the United States. In addition to producing high-quality wines, they are also committed to equity and social justice. Their wines include the SHE CAN collection—and its related SHE CAN Professional Development Fund—which are inspired by the endless pursuit of all women who are making their dreams a reality and breaking barriers daily. And the Black Girl Magic collection, Robin and Andréa’s personal ode to their culture and story, is inspired by the magic and resilience of Black women, to be enjoyed by all.
10/28/20 Episode 13: "It’s an entanglement" with Sicily Sierra
Sicily Sierra steps into the Walk-In with Elle to talk about acting as a kid on one of Elle's favorite TV shows and her transition from acting to the culinary scene. And for the first time Sicily gives us the full story about the closure of Colors, the NYC restaurant that closed within a month of reopening.
About Sicily Sierra: Actress-turned-chef Sicily Sierra has had a long career creating spaces for the Black community to come together over food that honors their ancestry. She is the co-founder of Food+People, a packaged goods company that focuses on quality food, great flavor, and simple recipes. In 2018, she and her mother opened Pinky & Red’s as part of San Francisco’s La Cocina incubator program. Pinky & Red’s, located on the campus of UC Berkeley, uses recipes inspired by those that her great-great-great-grandfather used while enslaved and working as a white family’s chef in Tennessee in the 1800s. She also helped reopen New York City’s historic, idealistic Colors restaurant in 2019 (it closed soon after).
11/4/20 Episode 14: "Following my gut has never failed me" with Susan Vu
Elle and Susan Vu, a food stylist and former culinary manager at Tasty, reminisce about their workdays at the Food Network. They talk about tokenization and break down the issue of respect versus appropriation in the culinary media industry. They also bond on Elle’s favorite topic: food styling!
About Susan Vu: Susan Vu is a food stylist, recipe developer, and culinary consultant. A first-generation Vietnamese American, Vu taught herself to cook at a young age while her father was at work and her mother was living in Vietnam. She eventually became a Senior Culinary Manager at Tasty. She’s worked on several shows on the Cooking Channel, including Rev Run’s Sunday Suppers, and the Amazon series Chef Out of Water.
11/11/20 Episode 15: "Together we'll just do a better job" with Elizabeth Falkner
Chef Elizabeth Falkner steps into the Walk-In with Elle to talk all things restaurants. They discuss Elizabeth’s transition from film school to becoming a pastry chef, opening and closing restaurants, and writing her memoir. They also talk about Elizabeth’s love of peaceful sword-fighting!
About Elizabeth Falkner: Elizabeth Falkner is a multiple-award-winning chef and a James Beard Foundation Award nominee. Born in San Francisco and raised in LA, she has owned and opened several restaurants all over the country over the course of her 30-year career. Today she is a recipe developer, consultant, and public speaker, and she cooks and raises money for charity events and food festivals all over the world. A lifelong athlete and creative, she has appeared on more than 40 television cooking competition programs—as both a contestant and a judge—and has produced two short films with food themes. She’s currently working on a documentary about the state of the restaurant industry during and after COVID-19.
11/18/20 Episode 16: "The sky was the limit" with Toni Tipton-Martin
Toni Tipton-Martin, award-winning culinary journalist and the new Editor-in-Chief of Cook's Country, steps into the Walk-In with Elle. They talk about Toni's formative years in Los Angeles, getting her first food-writing job at 19, and honoring the legacy of African-American cooks in her acclaimed books The Jemima Code and Jubilee. Toni digs deep into her personal life, publicly opening up about stories of crisis, faith, and triumph, for the very first time.
About Toni Tipton-Martin: Toni Tipton-Martin's journalism career began in college in Los Angeles, where she became the food editor of the local newspaper her senior year. After graduation she became the nutrition writer at The Los Angeles Times and a contributing editor to Heart and Soul Magazine. In 1991, she became the first African-American editor at a major American newspaper food section when she took over the cooking pages at The Cleveland Plain-Dealer.
In 2008, she founded The SANDE Youth Project as a grassroots outreach to improve the lives of vulnerable families. She visited the Obama White House twice for her outreach to help families live healthier lives, and in 2014 she earned the Southern Foodways Alliance John Egerton Prize for this work. With the Egerton Prize as seed money, Toni hosted Soul Summit: A Conversation About Race, Identity, Power and Food, an unprecedented 3-day gathering that invited writers, scholars, authors, chefs, students and anyone interested in food justice to come together and celebrate African American Foodways.
Toni published The Jemima Code, a history of African American cookbooks, in 2015. She self-published the book as a blog after a New York City agent disappeared with her proposal in 2010. In 2019, she published her cookbook Jubilee: Recipes from Two Centuries of African American Cooking. Toni is a member of the James Beard Awards Committee, Oldways African Heritage Diet Pyramid Advisory Committee, Les Dames D’Escoffier Washington, D.C. Chapter, and Jack and Jill of America, Inc. She is a co-founder and former president of Southern Foodways Alliance and Foodways Texas.
Toni is now the Editor-in-Chief of Cook’s Country. She is also writing a memoir that will be published in 2021. She also recently secured a two-book deal with Clarkson Potter that builds on Jubilee. The first is Juke Joints, Jazz Clubs and Juice: Cocktails from Two Centuries of African American Mixology. The second is a baking book.