Kardea Brown is a contemporary Southern cook born in Charleston, South Carolina, and host of the Food Network series, “Delicious Miss Brown,” now in its sixth season. Of Gullah Geechee descent, Kardea was raised by her single mother and grandmother and spent much of her childhood on Wadmalaw Island among the Gullah community where she grew up with the foods, flavors, history and heritage of her culture.
The Gullah community formed when West Africans arrived in the Lowcountry as slaves and they developed a cuisine born of necessity, making use of local ingredients harvested from land and sea. It was through her grandmother that Kardea learned of and tasted the traditional foods of her ancestry, learning to prepare many of the dishes she cooks today. While dedicated to preserving her culinary roots and sharing the history of her culture, over time Kardea also began to infuse newer flavors that reflect her innate flair for cooking and exploration of diverse influences.
After graduating from Atlanta’s Oglethorpe University, Kardea accepted a job at a child placement agency and cooking became her therapy to work through the emotional toll of social work. When that toll became too great, Kardea moved to Newark, NJ for a fresh start and accepted a position with Big Brothers Big Sisters. There she thrived with exposure to different cultures and people that left her energized for a new journey.
Bringing Gullah Cuisine From the Lowcountry to the TV Screen:
While working in Newark, a former boyfriend learned of a casting call and submitted a lively and engaging tape of Kardea cooking which ultimately came to the attention of a production company who created a pilot with her for a Cooking Channel show. The producers subsequently connected with Food Network executives who responded that they loved her energy and personality but felt that she could benefit from more experience. This feedback proved to be a revelation to Kardea, who realized that she had finally found her true passion and decided to move back home to South Carolina and the food, family and traditions that are such an important part of her identity. Although she hadn’t yet mapped out her next career steps, inspiration struck on the return trip home, and she decided to create the New Gullah Supper Club pop-up in 2015. Born of a GoFundMe campaign, this traveling dinner series showcased Kardea’s heritage, with a menu that paid homage to the dishes passed down through her family for generations executed with her own signature flair.
Over time, Kardea stayed in touch with Food Network, appearing on several shows, and by fall 2018 she had filmed a proof of concept for her current show, Delicious Miss Brown. The show premiered on Food Network in July 2019 and is now in its sixth season. Filmed at Kardea’s home on Edisto Island, the show celebrates the rich history of her Gullah heritage and the diversity of its cuisine, showcasing her passion for cooking and culture, while sharing stories as she prepares food for dinner parties and events for family and friends. On Delicious Miss Brown, Kardea shows loyal viewers – whom she affectionately refers to as her ‘cousins’ – another side of Charleston, and that the Gullah people and their cuisine are still thriving on the Sea Islands. Her take on traditional Gullah cuisine is lighter and more vegetable-forward, and part of Kardea’s mission is to show that Southern cuisine is much more than just fried food.
Kardea also hosts The Great Soul Food Cook-Off, a series produced by discovery+ and OWN that premiered in November 2021 on the streaming service. The first-ever soul food cooking competition, The Great Soul Food Cook-Off spotlights the traditions of Black chefs and Black food, and the contributions soul food has had on American cuisine.
Kardea has also appeared in a range of other Food Network shows including Beat Bobby Flay, Chopped Junior, Cooks vs. Cons, Spring Baking Championship and Farmhouse Rules.
From the Screen to the Page:
In October 2022, Kardea launched her first book, The Way Home: A Celebration of Sea Islands Food and Family with over 100 Recipes (Harper Collins $31.49) which became a New York Times best seller within days of its release. Part autobiography and part cookbook, it features 125 recipes and gorgeous four-color photos that illustrate her background in Lowcountry cooking and lighter Gullah fare based on family recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation.