Celebrate Thanksgiving with Elle Simone Scott (and get her favorite recipe too!)
18 Nov 2021
If you could only use one word to describe Elle Simone Scott, it would be warrior. The executive editor and founder of The Diversity Council at America’s Test Kitchen has navigated a career and life full of extreme highs and lows. From battling ovarian cancer to losing everything in the height of the 2008 recession, she fought to reinvent herself career-wise and is now one of the few queer women of color to work as a chef in the culinary world. APB recently sat down with Elle to discuss the intersection of food, culture and DEI in both our workplaces and communities (she even shared a free copy of her favorite Thanksgiving recipe, you can download it below!).
Thanksgiving is a time that many spend with family and friends. Would you share your favorite memory from celebrating growing up?
I have a lot of great memories from my childhood holidays in Detroit but one of the things I enjoy reminiscing on the most was seeing my grandmother, her sisters, brother and their mother sitting around my grandmother’s dining room table. They would eat on the “good plates” which were blue and white floral porcelain table settings. The young people would eat on paper plates or whatever was in the cupboard but the “Elders” got to eat like royalty and it was just the tradition! I have consequently inherited that table setting and look forward to putting on the table for my uncles and aunts this holiday.
Food is a wonderful way to celebrate our differences. How do you bring your DEI work into your culinary work, and do you have any advice for those who may be introducing a new recipe from their culture to those who are not part of their community?
For me, DEI, my life and work are all intersectional. It’s not something I can leave on “the shelf” when the day is done. That means that myself and many others are always carrying out culture and traditions wherever we go. It also means that when we give voice to our own cultures, we empower others to tell their stories and so many of us do this on a plate. I think that the joy of sharing ourselves in food is telling the stories that consist of our beautiful memories, our family oral history and our love for food. Think of introducing a new recipe as a way of re-introducing yourself to your communities but in a more intimate way that is befitting of the holiday spirit.
Cultural appropriation is one of many topics dominating the DEI conversation right now. With Thanksgiving being so much tied into our Indigenous brothers and sisters’ stories, how do you personally practice cultural appropriation as a Black woman celebrating a holiday that has a controversial history?
The complex history of the United States is very nuanced and of course is not without controversy and because of that same complexity, the fabric of it is woven by so many cultures and ethnicities and all the layers of existence that come with that. Many years ago, my family decided that observing holidays no longer needed to be based on or steeped in the traditions that are in place; we could decide how to honor Ancestors and those who were before us. We do so by always giving land acknowledgement whenever we gather, we acknowledge the ways in which injustices have been perpetrated and make a collective commitment to be active in our communities to continue to eradicate them; be it community service, local government or legislative actions. We don’t want to erase history, we want to acknowledge it and create better communities for the future.
Do you have a favorite Thanksgiving recipe?
Absolutely! Sweet Potato Pie. Please feel free to share the recipe with everyone.