Tanya’s Table kicks off with special guest Questlove

By Deana Korsunsky

Tanya’s Table released its inaugural episode, marking the occasion with a conversation between Tanya Holland, and special guest, Questlove. 

Questlove has made massive strides in the music industry, from his beginnings in the Philadelphia hip-hop scene to his long-standing position as musical director for The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon. Questlove’s band, The Roots, serves as the show’s in-house band. Questlove also boasts numerous musical roles and accolades. In addition to being a renowned drummer, DJ, producer, entrepreneur, and New York Times best-selling author, the 5-time Grammy award winning musician has produced recordings for artists such as D’Angelo, Eminem, and Jay-Z. 

Questlove is an award-winning music producer and author.

While Questlove boasts a large and intricate resume in the realm of music, he also has a professional and personal involvement in the food industry. Author of best-selling books Something To Food About and Mixtape Potluck Cookbook, Questlove has long-had a voice in the culinary world. He has hosted a series of Food Salons, invested in several “future of food” companies such as JUST, Inc. and Right Rice, and appeared as a Guest Judge on season 11 of Top Chef. Questlove touches on some of his culinary involvements in the first episode of Tanya’s Table, expanding upon his experiences with cooking and personal rediscovery through food.

Throughout the episode, Questlove offers his take on the food industry, but also finds overlap between that and his experiences as an artist. “I consider culinary arts, comedy art and music expression to be in line with each other,” he tells Holland. Each medium, he explains, carries an element of creativity and artistry that can reflect and define our society. “What we all share,” he says, “is that we define culture in so many ways. Music, food, and comedy. Comedy challenges it, and music [and food] dictate a lot of trends or capture what’s going on in the moment.” Like other art forms, food has the ability to record humanity’s values and choices.

Questlove elaborates on the commonalities between music and food as he compares the traditional aspect of making music with that of recreating recipes. He recalls the process of using the SP500, a specific type of drumming device, to make music in the late 80s to early 90s. “We move further away from this machinery in that time period because we don’t need it anymore with the way that tech moves,” Questlove explains. He then compares this to the development of ideas that are passed down within cooking, questioning whether there is a “language that is lost” in the process. His version of ‘70s soul food, he states, is almost certainly different from what was considered soul food in the ‘50s and what it is considered today.

Tanya’s Table’s first episode intertwines Holland’s cooking and restaurant management expertise with guest Questlove’s thoughtful insights on the music industry and his own cooking experiences. From his meetings with sushi master Jiro Ono, to his connections between making music and cooking, to his favorite hot sauce, Questlove brings unique perspectives to the table. Holland and Questlove touch on food activism, how the pandemic affected the food industry, food as a means of holding on to one’s past, and the experiences of being successful black entrepreneurs in the food and entertainment business. 

Tune in every Tuesday to listen to Tanya’s Table episodes, which promise to be full of laughs, industry insights, personal stories, and various guests with fascinating takes on food and life!

Tanya’s Table Podcast: An Overview

By Deana Korsunsky

What is food? It fuels us, drives us, and brings us together. Tanya’s Table host Tanya Holland is no stranger to this magic of cooking and feeding; the author, public speaker, executive chef and owner of Oakland’s Brown Sugar Kitchen has over twenty years experience under her belt—her apron, that is! 

Tanya Holland is an award-winning chef, author, and public speaker

Holland’s cooking specialty and passion is soul food, influenced both by traditional southern cuisine and her French training at La Varenne École De Cuisine. Holland has built her skills over the years, traveling from New York City, to France, to Massachusetts, and to her current homebase of California. She has trained under numerous experts such as Bobby Flay, served as president of the prestigious Les Dames d’Escoffier San Francisco chapter, and even received the honor of having the date June 5th be named “Tanya Holland Day” in Oakland, CA in recognition of her work for the community. You may also recognize Holland from season 15 on Bravo’s Top Chef, or from Food Network’s Melting Pot

While Holland has pioneered numerous projects—including the release of her latest cookbook, Brown Sugar Kitchen: Down-Home Recipes from Sweet West Oakland—the release of her podcast Tanya’s Table brings her seasoned skills and insight on the food-related topics directly to listeners’ ears. Each forty-five minute episode welcomes listeners to learn about food, but also about the nature of human life itself. Listen as Holland discusses travel, social awareness, self-help, work/life balance, challenges and triumphs, and more. 

Holland also brings on a variety of guests, including musical artist Questlove, Modern Family’s Jesse Tyler Ferguson, comedian and actress Aisha Tyler, and many more. Each episode delves into each guest’s personal take on food, design, or style. Many guests have direct connections to the food industry, whether it be cooking experience, food activism, restaurant founding, or merely being culinary enthusiasts. Others, however, are directors, authors, and even former world series champions! The common denominator? Every guest has a penchant for creative expression and storytelling. Listen as Tanya Holland speaks to these individuals, entertaining and educating listeners with delightful conversation.

Tanya’s Table offers perspectives on food and culture that no doubt rarely cross listeners’ minds, shedding light on the political, artistic, and social implications of food. Can food be gendered? How can it be therapeutic? How has the industry changed with the rise of a pandemic? With the insight of her numerous guests, Tanya Holland answers all of these questions. So, pull up a chair, and join us at Tanya’s Table, where there’s always great food and great conversation!