Chef Huda Dishes on Kwanzaa & More
Chef Huda is a culinary competitor who rises to the top!
The multi-talented, award-winning executive chef and owner of the Washington, DC-based company “Pretty & Delicious”™ has proven to the world she is fierce in every manner and made Food Network history by winning the largest personal prize earnings to date of any contestant–a cool $23,900, on the network’s most diehard show Cutthroat Kitchen.
The University of Maryland, College Park and Le Cordon Bleu graduate is a much sought after writer and TV personality who grew up in an organic household and today specializes in healthy “comfort-food.” Currently serving as an ambassador for the American Heart Association and working with The CW Network’s “Healthy DC” Campaign, Huda’s lifelong mission is getting getting people to establish a positive relationship with food to ensure a long lasting life.
Just in time for one of the world’s most beloved holidays, America’s newest culinary darling took time to chat with JET about the significance of her historical Cutthroat Kitchen victory, why women chefs are needed and why Kwanzaa means so much, not only her, but our community as a whole.
JET: What was going through your mind when you were announced the winner of Cutthroat Kitchen?
Chef Huda: Amazing! It was such a moment for me. As a fan of the show being able to beat out the “best of the best” felt amazing! What you don’t get to see is everyone being mad scientists in the back while the show is going on. It is hard yet fun work and who knew S’mores were so difficult to make. But nonetheless, it was such a blessing!
JET: Who are some of your major culinary influences?
CH: My mother, of course, as well as grandmother, aunt, and chefs B. Smith and Wolfgang Puck
JET: Why is healthy cooking so important?
CH: After dealing with some emotional “eating” battles, I discovered how to eat healthy and wanted to share my knowledge since my childhood was spent eating organic. My personal goal is to change lives and food is one of the most easiest ways to connect with people.
JET: Besides Christmas, another December holiday we celebrate is Kwanzaa. What does Kwanzaa mean to you?
CH: Kwanzaa means community, culture and family. It is a time to build, break bread and do so much good during this important holiday.
JET: How challenging is is to balance being Black and female in the culinary world?
CH: Historically, women have excelled in almost every field and yet we are often underestimated. I do not consider it a disadvantage and, honestly, tend not to think about it too much. Being Black and a woman makes me that much more unique in this industry. My goal is to inspire the next generation of little girls to become the baddest chefs in the room!
COLLARDS GREEN AND BELL PEPPER SOUP
What You Need
2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion – diced
1 large carrot – small dice
1 stalk celery – chopped
4 fresh cloves garlic -minced
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
4 cups reduced-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
1 cup of red and yellow bell peppers – small diced
3 cups collard greens cleaned, de-stemmed, roughly chopped
2 cups kale – cleaned, de-stemmed, roughly chopped
2 cups black-eyed peas – canned
Salt and pepper to taste
Let’s make something Pretty and Delicious™.
Place a large pot over medium-high heat then add the olive oil. Add in the onions, bell peppers, thyme and garlic. Sauté until the onions are translucent.
Stir in the carrots, celery, collards, kale, black-eyed peas, red pepper flakes and chicken stock. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat and simmer 20 – 25 minutes. Stir occasionally.
Taste and season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove thyme sprigs before serving. Once your soup is perfect remove from heat. Enjoy!
SWEET POTATO MOUSSE
What You Need
2 cup sweet potato – mashed
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
3/4 cup candied pecans
1 cup heavy cream – whipped
1/2 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Let’s Make something Pretty and Delicious™.
In a large bowl combine the mashed sweet potato, brown sugar, ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon.
In a separate cold bowl pour in heavy cream and sugar. Whisk until the cream forms soft peaks*. Set aside about a half cup of whipped cream to top your mousse. With the remaining whipped cream, gently fold in the sweet potato mixture.
*Chef Huda Tip: A Soft Peak is when the whipped cream becomes firm and is able to stand up on top of the whisk.
Spoon Sweet Potato Mousse into desired serving dish and refrigerate until you are ready to serve. Before serving top with whipped cream and pecans. Enjoy!
Chef Huda’s historic Cutthroat Kitchen episode re-airs, coincidentally, on Friday, Dec. 26th at 5pm E/4pm C. Follow her delicious musings on Twitter and Instagram at @ChefHuda and on Facebook at MyChefHuda. For more information, please visit chefhuda.com.
About Tyrus Townsend
Cultural expositor Tyrus Rochell Townsend has written for Essence, Uptown, Vibe, BET.com, The Atlanta Post, Bleu Magazine, Details Style Network and numerous other publications. Read about his style musings at The Gentleman’s Daily and follow him on Twitter @gentlemansdaily and on Instagram at @tyrusrochelltownsend and @thegentlemansdaily.