Sooooo… I did a thing during my Hilton Head trip. Follow me here as this story will increase in pure dopeness with a lesson in ask and you shall receive when your wanderlust.
During my pre-vacation foodie research, I came across a Bon Appetit article featuring Gullah Geechie Chef BJ Dennis. At that time I included him in my Lowcountry notes.
Fast forward, I decided I should watch Netflix’s “High on the Hog: How African American Cuisine Transformed America,” the weekend prior to leaving for Hilton Head. Lo and behold, there’s Chef BJ in episode two, wearing the hat of Gullah Cultural Bearer. In this episode, Chef BJ is educating the masses and speaking truth to power regarding our ancestors’ contributions prior to and during slavery and beyond. This is to include the origins and their influence on Lowcountry/Gullah cuisine.
If you haven’t watched “High on the Hog,” it is highly recommended docuseries. Chef and writer Stephen Satterfield traces the delicious, moving throughlines of Black food. While frustrating at times, it displays the beauty, creativity, intelligence, and resilience of Africans/Black folk in a beautiful, heartwarming, and salivatingly (I made that word up) orgasmic way.
After viewing the episode, I dig through my notes and locate Chef BJ’s email address. Me being who I am, I reach out to announce our pending arrival to Hilton Head and to inquirer about Gullah related activities and restaurants. He answers my email in less than 24 hours with a request to talk, which I anticipated with an inner child’s exuberance that only chefs can activate. During our conversation, Chef BJ beats me to my ask, as he with true southern hospitality charm offers to prepare a Gullah inspired welcome meal.
Let me say that Chef BJ is one in a million. In order to steal some time with him, at my request he came up to our room to drop the food off. This brother exudes cool cat southern charm and swag. He’s intelligent, fun, talented, and passionate about his craft and it’s history. Which is also evidenced with his being the food stylist and food interpreter for the Amazon series, “Underground Railroad.” Chef captivated us with his knowledge and Gullah accent (It’s the accent for me.) as we chatted about food, life, family, and his next endeavors, which concluded with a spirit driven and pouring into prayer for Chef BJ led by my friend Jill. Which me, Jill, and Michelle wish him well on his evolving culinary and family journey. Can’t wait to see what’s next and hoping I’m there to partake and have a lovely chat with him. Click here to experience some of our delicious chat: https://youtu.be/UpbRIscWPQs
Our Gullah influenced welcome meal, Chef BJ curated just for us consisted of:
~Red Rice with Shrimp
~Glazed Turkey Wings
~Okra and Cabbage
~Blueberry Lemon Honey Jam (Which I’m still enjoying at home.)
Of course red rice and okra were a must. It was ALL so delicious and fresh. If only we had seconds of the Glazed Turkey Wings.
Well if you’re ever in the Lowcountry, look Chef BJ up. And, remember, closed mouths don’t get fed. And, that’s not just related to food. Stay tuned for Part 2 of our Gullah cuisine experience. Bon Appetit! Cheers! Enjoy! #BeDoLove #FindYourZen #LivingOutLoud #BirthAndLiveYourSoulFullPurpose #BeDoLoveSAVOR #IDineToWriteAboutIt #Yummylicious #Yummyliciousness #BonAppetit #FordPorn #Foodie #FoodieLife #ExpandYourPalate #OffTheBeatenPath #GullahCuisine #Gullah #Lowcountry #Okra #RedRice #LowcountryEats #Wanderlust
Other delicious tidbits about Chef BJ:
City Paper | Chef B.J. Dennis departing Charleston for Bluffton cafe and market supporting Gullah co-op