By Kae Saeteurn
June 5, 2017
Founded by Kristi Brown, That Brown Girl Cooks! is about food and connections, from promoting healthy food options to connecting families and communities. I got in touch with Kristi and her son Damon Bomar to learn more about who and what TBGC! is all about, including their very own signature hummus.
Kae Saeteurn: Can you tell me about the story behind the That Brown Girl Cooks! name?
Kristi Brown: It’s kind of a coincidence. My sister and I had a friend, and whenever we would hang out with her, she would say, “That’s so brown girl.” When it came to my business, the name was a totally different name. My mentor had suggested to make it more genuine, and so it became That Brown Girl Cooks! It’s more personal and reflects more of who I am.
Damon Bomar: And if you didn’t catch it, “Brown” is also a play on her last name.
KS: That’s awesome that you were able to come up with a name that’s speaks more to you. On your website, it states: “Food is nourishment. It is culture. It is community.” How do you bring community together through your work?
KB: It starts with the idea that you have to come to a table when getting food. This image is essential. There’s a unifying need for nourishment and connecting people. We recognize the need for connection, and we want people to recognize that, and make people more open to that.
DB: We also create community by sourcing the spices and ingredients from different communities, and we find those communities to connect with. Hummus is not a common thing for African Americans. One of our ingredients is an Ethiopian spice called Berbere, so we’re connecting different cultures through products.
“Our mission is to connect families with healthy, sustainable food options.”
KS: With that, your inaugural product was the Black Eyed Peas Hummus. Why did you choose this product, and how did this kick things off for you?
KB: The main reason is because there was a demand. I had been in catering for several years and was looking for a new adventure. People started asking me to put my products in the store, so I thought, “Let’s try it and see.”
I’m from Kansas City, and so black eyed peas and my products are a way to connect with who I am and where I’m from, and to show what soul food is and what it can be. It’s a way to represent the African diaspora and African Americans.
KS: One last question. That Brown Girl Cooks offers interactive classes and pop-ups. What are your goals for your growing business and connecting community through these outlets?
DB: Our mission is to connect families with healthy, sustainable food options. Through classes and pop-ups, we want to teach and show people how to eat healthier. Often times when people try to eat healthier, the food can be bland. We want to show them that the food doesn’t have to be bland by saying, “Hey this is what you can do,” and show them how to cook different foods. And showing how to meal plan, shop, and where to shop.
For parents, it means a lot to them to be feeding their children and eating around a table with their family. That’s also a memory for children growing up. Eating around a table is a “lost art” in American culture. A goal is to make connections for families and communities, and to grow our distribution and products by showcasing how people can eat healthier.♦