If you love food and social media the way that I do, then you’ve definitely seen and/or followed @ThugKitchen. The account seems to be run by someone who has a lot of talent in the food department and an incredible sense of uncensored, profanity-laced humor. And because the account/blog/online brand is called “Thug Kitchen,” I assumed it was a chef, who happens to be a Black man using his cheeky sense of humor to go viral with amazing vegan recipes, gaining more eyes on his masterpieces than he ever thought possible–especially with a tagline like: “Eat like you give a f*ck!” Boy, was I wrong! The powers that be behind “Thug Kitchen” were revealed and surprise, surprise, it’s two White people.
Michelle Davis and Matt Holloway are the hilarious duo behind “Thug Kitchen” or “TK” and I am none too pleased because…cultural appropriation. It would have been too perfect to have a Black man behind this brand; showing people that healthy eating isn’t an impossible task, but something exciting and unfiltered that you could have fun with. So how did these two come up with this very urban concept?
Holloway tells Epicurious, “There were these paragraphs where the writer would wax poetic about recipes. The lifestyle, the food–we couldnt identify with anything that was out there.” So Thug Kitchen would operate under this premise: What if somebody had a healthy food site that would yell at people to eat a godd*mn salad? Davis says, “We started the site just for fun, to make each other laugh.”
Feels like we’re the butt of the joke, instead of being in on it. This is literally cooking in blackface. The only thing that helps here is the old adage that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but there’s a thin line between imitation and thievery and White folks love to cross that line–taking what’s inherently cool about Black people and making it a new trend.
Everything is so f*cking charming when they do it, right? Maybe I am wrong in assuming that the chef who urges their followers to “go get you some motherf*cking nectarines before it’s all-pumpkin-everything season” was Black. And maybe I am even more wrong for being mad that the genius behind “TK” is White…? Nah.
Why am I mad? Well, because you will likely never see the charming, funny and foul-mouthed Auntie Fee aka Felicia Odell securing a cookbook deal, or even on the Food Network, no matter who many major publications cosign her comedic genius. But the folks behind “TK” have gotten an Epicurious write up, a book deal, an offensive trailer for the cookbook and by the looks of their Instagram, there might even be something on-camera in the works…a show perhaps?
And let’s talk about the timing. In the Epicurious article, Holloway and Davis talked about starting the blog in 2012 with no fanfare at all. In fact, Holloway used the site to work on his photography and Davis was working on honing her recipe building skills. Friends and family didn’t even know about their project. But once they were discovered on Reddit and Gwyneth Paltrow mentioned them, their internet fame skyrocketed. I never want to knock anyone’s hustle, but this feels like Iggy Azalea claiming to be the Queen of Rap or Kendall Jenner being praised for rocking an “epic” new hairstyle: cornrows. I just want to scream: Stop stealing everything we make cool and pretending it’s a new trend because you’re doing it, dammit!
In reading about “TK’s” big reveal on Epicurious, here’s a few things that stuck out to me:
“It’s what a food website run by Daily Show comedian Lewis Black and rapper Lil’ Wayne might look like.”
“After a bit of detective work and a fair amount of sweet-talking, I found myself driving through East Hollywood on the way to sample some dairy-free ice cream from Scoops, blasting Gucci Manes “Lemonade” with the windows down. I was rolling with Michelle Davis and Matt Holloway, both 29, aka the pair behind Thug Kitchen.”
*Sigh* I don’t even have the energy to take Epicurious’ writer Matt Duckor to task for the words above. I just… ugh, at least they don’t use the “N-word?”
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