BJ Dennis, Chef (Charleston, SC)
Listen to the lilt of this Lowcountry accent. Chef BJ Dennis is Gullah Geechie, part of the descendants of Central and West Africans who came from different ethnic and social groups. Originally enslaved together on the isolated sea and barrier islands from Pender County, North Carolina to St. John’s County, Florida and for 30 miles inland, over time, these people developed the creole Gullah Geechee language as a means of communicating with each other. What you’re hearing is that history coming through in every syllable. If you’ve been to this part of the country, then perhaps you know about the musical traditions, the baskets, and maybe even the paint colors, but did you know about Gullah Geechie cuisine? BJ is on his personal journey to discover his roots through food, and he’s inviting us to join him with every plate. You might have seen him on Fine Cooking’s Moveable Feast, in the New York Times, or at many a special event or food festival, but here he sits down with me to ponder his past -- and consider his next steps.