In celebration of Pride Month, we turn our attention to the culinary world and the incredible contributions of queer culinary artists in the form of iconic brands, revolutionizing the culinary landscape. These talented individuals are not only creating mouthwatering dishes and exquisite drinks but also challenging traditional norms and reshaping the way we perceive food, beverages, and their creators.
From diverse backgrounds and unique creative styles, these six queer trailblazing culinary brands are breaking barriers, championing inclusivity, and leaving an indelible mark on the global gastronomic scene. Prepare to embark on a tantalizing journey with TrooRa as we explore their stories, innovative techniques, and delectable creations.
Meet Chef Lazarus Lynch, the self-proclaimed “Son of a Southern Chef.” He has always been a creative force, from his eye-catching appearance to his infectious energy. He discovered his love for food in his early teens, inspired by cooking shows and his father’s soul food restaurant.
He also collaborated with renowned chef, Marcus Samuelsson, expressing American voices through culinary creations at the Met Gala. Chef Lynch’s story is a reminder of the transformational impact of presence and empathy.
As head bartender at the Hidden Pearl in Brooklyn, Chef Lisa Fernandes’ creations mesmerize patrons. Growing up surrounded by diverse cultures, Lisa savored global cuisines and found solace in the kitchen. She fearlessly experimented with unfamiliar ingredients, honing her skills. From learning at Johnson & Wales University to South Florida’s diverse food scene, she embarked on an assorted cuisine-culinary journey.
Settling in New York, she discovered a melting pot of flavors and embraced the challenge of crafting innovative cocktails and dishes. Her appearance on Top Chef inspired others and fueled her drive for inclusivity in the kitchen. The evolving culinary world reflects progress, but she yearns for a future where acceptance triumphs over prejudice.
Enter the enchanting realm of Chef Silvana Salcido Esparza—a proud, openly queer person and a self-appointed “Chingona” chef who embodies audacious brilliance. At just six years old, she toiled at her family’s bakery, mastering traditional recipes passed down by her mother and grandmother. After a detour in banking, she surrendered to her culinary calling, embarking on a transformative journey through Mexican cuisine.
In 2002, she fearlessly opened Barrio Café, defying conventions and illuminating Mexican heritage through her culinary art. Her bold presence challenges industry bias, shaping a brighter, more queer inclusive culinary world.
Picture a world where you savor a social drink sans the dreaded hangover. Enter Cann Social Tonics, the brainchild of Jake Bullock and Luke Anderson.
These THC-infused beverages deliver a gentle buzz without the drawbacks that come with alcoholic drinks. As cannabis is gaining legal ground in the country and beyond, Cann’s growth potential is skyrocketing. It quickly soared to become the best-selling THC beverage in the US after its launch.
Bullock and Anderson, both identifying as queer, recognized the significance of social drinking in the LGBTQ+ community. Their goal: provide a safe, enjoyable substitute for alcohol, capturing the attention of adults seeking moderation. Cann’s appeal lies in its ability to merge enjoyment with wellness—a pioneering solution for all.
In the heart of San Francisco’s Castro district resides the enchanting world of Kokak Chocolates, where Carol Gancia, an immigrant and proud LGBTQ+ member, weaves magic with her artisanal creations. Her single-origin heirloom chocolates, sourced sustainably from Ecuador, have captivated chocolate lovers worldwide. Carol’s journey began when she stumbled upon the rare “Naciónal” cacao, falling head over heels for its exquisite flavor balance and lack of bitterness. Inspired by her Asian heritage and trained under culinary luminaries, she founded Kokak Chocolates to fuse her identity, heritage, and culinary expertise. With each chocolate, she infuses love, connecting with customers through taste, sight, and emotion.
Inspired by the vulnerable dragonfly just after metamorphosis, Teneral Cellars is on a mission to reshape the wine industry and empower women. Founder Jill Osur believes in using wine as a conduit for change, sparking necessary conversations at a global scale. They produce sustainable, award-winning wines, donating 10% of profits to organizations fighting for gender and racial justice.
Osur’s research revealed the industry’s male dominance, prompting her to launch Teneral Cellars, which elevates and celebrates women at all levels. They release themed collections showcasing female artists and honoring trailblazing women. Teneral is also LGBTQ+-owned, with a “Love is Love” collection supporting LGBTQ causes.
These six queer-led revolutionary culinary brands are turning up the heat in the culinary world, adding a dash of fabulousness to every dish and drink. With their innovative flavors and daring techniques, they are breaking boundaries and challenging traditional norms. Get ready to savor the revolution they are cooking up in the kitchen! Happy Pride Month!
TROORA MAGAZINE | JUNE 2023
WRITTEN BY MRUDAVI PUNEKAR
PHOTOS COURTESY OF ANISHA SISODIA | TOM MCCORKLE | CHEF LISA FERNANDES | THE HIDDEN PEARL | DEZEEN | CHEF SILVANA SALCIDO ESPARZA | CANN VIA MADMEN | EMJAY | MEDIUM | KOKAK CHOCOLATES | NORBU GYACHUNG | MARGAUX BELLOTT | THOMAS SMITH | STUDIO BANAA | JILL OSUR | GAIL HAMPSHIRE | ANTIGNG