Southern Culture Foods Founder and Chef Shares Her Recipe for Success with You

You’ve probably scrolled past editorial stylized dishes on your favorite food blog or on social media. But it’s not every day that you learn about the business behind culinary entrepreneurship. Yes, it’s an entire industry. And if you’re ready to learn how to take the heat in the kitchen, Chef Erica Barrett, founder and CEO of Southern Culture Foods, wants to help you learn the recipe for success as a food entrepreneur.

Since launching her company in 2012, Southern Culture Foods products are being sold in 4,000 stores nationwide. And we hear that her pancake mix, waffle mix, and rubs are popular by demand! So, if you’ve been sitting on a family recipe, want to learn more about the science of cooking, or become an entrepreneur and food personality like her—she has you covered.

Barrett took a moment from throwing down in the kitchen to talk about all things food and business. Take a look at her bite-size tips for food entrepreneurs.

BLACK ENTERPRISE: There are years of training that goes into becoming a chef, how can those interested in food entrepreneurship learn the basics without formal training?

Erica Barrett: Being an entrepreneur is about figuring things out. When you embark on a food journey, you embark on the road less traveled. Read articles, research everything, exhaust all resources, reach out to people that you admire. Make mistakes as experience is the best teacher.

How did you turn your career as a chef into a successful business, Southern Culture Foods?

I really didn’t do anything outside of step out on faith. God did the rest. My journey has been an everyday journey of learning, growing, networking, structuring my goals, and working tirelessly to make Southern Culture a household name.

What is the secret sauce to the business of culinary entrepreneurship?

The secret sauce is learning about the food industry every day, studying trends, and striving to be extremely different.

You wrote the cookbook, Shuga & Seoul, which seems like a natural move for a chef but what did you learn about culinary entrepreneurship through that process?   

Writing a book taught me about structure, being organized, and creating a culinary road map for others to follow.

How important is it for food entrepreneurs to position themselves as personalities and build their social media presence?

Social media is huge and can be life-changing. Don’t be afraid to be yourself, separating yourself comes from being totally different. We have an opportunity to change the world through food, so don’t take it lightly.

Have you been able to monetize your online presence? If so, what advice do you have for other food entrepreneurs?

Yes, I use FB ads; I also do influencer ads, videos, FB lives and email lists. Building a community online is important to success. My advice is to find your unique calling in food and trust your gut. Be bold in who you are as a chef an entrepreneur and success will follow.

If you want to hear more from Barrett, join us in Charlotte for our newest premier event for innovators, creators, and founders; FWD. Get your tickets today!

The post Southern Culture Foods Founder and Chef Shares Her Recipe for Success with You appeared first on Black Enterprise.

Lifestyle | Black Enterprise


How To Make Gumbo & Where The Recipe Originated

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

Source: LauriPatterson / Getty

Rich in heritage, gumbo is like the melting-pot of Louisiana cooking and is often confused with jambalaya and étouffée. They all contain similar ingredients, but the textures and flavors vary a bit.

What’s the difference?

Think of Jambalaya as like the paella of New Orleans. It consists of meat, veggies and rice thickly combined, while gumbo on the other hand contains veggies and seafood or other meat served as soup with rice on the side. Étouffée is usually made with a shellfish like shrimp or crawfish submerged in a thick sauce. 

According to Southern Food Ways, the gumbo name “derives from a West African word for okra, suggesting that gumbo was originally made with okra. The use of filé (dried and ground sassafras leaves) was a contribution of the Choctaws and, possibly, other local tribes. Roux has its origin in French cuisine, although the roux used in gumbos is much darker than its Gallic cousins.”

The first documented references to the tasty dish appeared in the 18th century with slaves and it made its way into cookbooks in the 19th century. A long tradition, gumbo was said to be served at a gubernatorial reception in New Orleans in 1803, and at a Cajun gathering on the Acadian Cost in 1804. 

Back then, gumbo contained “chicken, ham, bacon, oysters, crab, shrimp, and beef, among them. Some of the recipes are made with okra, others with filé. Although there is no mention of a roux in any of the recipes, some of them called for the addition of flour or browned flour as a thickener” and the gumbo was served with corn meal mush. Today, roux and rice are key ingredients.

One of the greatest things about gumbo is that it’s easy to make. Try it at home with this recipe from below!


  • 2 red onions, sliced
  • 1 (10 oz.) package frozen cut okra, thawed
  • 1 large yellow bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 4 ribs celery with leaves, sliced 3/4 cup finely chopped, fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 12 chicken thighs
  • 1 pound cooked andouille sausage or kielbasa, sliced
  • 1/2 inch thick
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
  • 1 (14 to 16 oz.) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained and chopped
  • 1/2 cup minced scallion greens
  • 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar, or to taste
  • 12 cups cooked white rice


Step 1: In a large bowl, stir together onions, okra, bell pepper, celery, 1/4 cup parsley, garlic, bay leaves, salt, thyme, cayenne, black pepper and allspice. Set aside.

Step 2: In a large Dutch oven, cook chicken in batches over medium heat until browned, about 5 minutes a side; transfer to a large bowl. Cook sausage in Dutch oven over medium heat, stirring constantly until lightly browned, about 6 minutes; transfer to bowl with chicken. Pour fat from Dutch oven into a glass measure and add enough vegetable oil to equal 2/3 cup. Pour into Dutch oven and heat over medium-low heat, scraping up any browned bits. Gradually whisk in flour and cook, stirring frequently, until it is a very dark, rich brown, about 30 minutes; be careful not to burn it.

Step 3: Add broth all at once and scrape up any browned bits. In another bowl, blend tomato paste with 2 cups water and stir into broth with chopped tomatoes. Add reserved vegetables, chicken and sausage. Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour, until thickened.

Step 4: Stir in remaining 1/2 cup parsley, scallion greens and vinegar and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Remove Dutch oven from heat, cover and let stand for 10 minutes. Discard bay leaves.

Step 5: Serve gumbo on top of rice in bowls.


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