Chef Brad Turner discusses his stuffing recipe with a passerby who had attended a previous session of The Healthy Holiday Series in Howard Park. (AFRO Photo/Roberto Alejandro)

Brothers Who Can Cook, a Baltimore-based association of African-American chefs and food enthusiasts, has attempted to bring healthier food choices and knowledge of cooking to African Americans for almost five years, carrying a message of the importance of better nutrition in the fight against preventable chronic health issues which Blacks often suffer at higher rates.

The Healthy Holidays Series has delivered professional chefs to the community by providing free cooking classes for the last three weeks at the Shop Rite in the city’s Howard Park neighborhood, educating shoppers on healthy ingredients, culinary techniques, and healthier ways to season and prepare holiday cuisine.

“If you want brown people to eat better, brown people need to teach them,” said chef Brad Turner, a professionally trained chef since 1990 says he has been cooking much longer than that.

Ujimma Masani started Brothers Who Can Cook almost five years ago, with a mission to not only improve food knowledge in the African American community, but to also expand the reach and message of the area’s Black chefs.

“We have to look at the systemic problems we have in our community around food choice,” said Masani. “We don’t just suffer from food deprivation based on lack of food, we also suffer from healthy food content and the choices that we make, and we call it ‘death by fork.’”

Eula McDowell said she’s been cooking professionally all her life, and attended all three classes in the holiday series. McDowell appreciated learning about the nutritional value of ingredients like sweet potatoes and squash, and that there is little need to prepare such ingredients with unhealthy additives like lots of sugar.

More than anything, McDowell enjoyed Turner’s approach to cooking, which uses recipes as a guide but emphasizes creativity over measurements.

“Not only is he giving you a recipe but he’s also teaching you to cook with your imagination,” said McDowell.