Arts & Entertainment

Savory and Sweet’s Tonya Hopkins Breaks Ground with Food Network Kwanzaa Special

todayDecember 21, 2022 1

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By Dylan Lewis | WURD Radio

If you tune into WURD Sundays at 11 a.m., you’re probably accustomed to hearing the voice of The Food Griot, Tonya Hopkins. If you don’t, you’re going to want to start listening to Savory and Sweet because Tonya might just be the next Food Network Star. 

Aside from being a WURD host, the culinary scholar is also the host of Food Network’s first-ever Kwanzaa series that highlights Black culinary traditions alongside each principle of the holiday. Tonya will appear on the “The Kwanzaa Menu” starting Dec. 26 on For each day of Kwanzaa, she will be cooking up a special dish with an even more special guest. 

“Celebrating Kwanzaa through good food and drink not only allows us to reconnect to the vibrance of our culinary  history that  greatly informs who we are as Black people, our very identities —  but also to take pride in that which has so profoundly shaped American foodways at large, for centuries,” Hopkins said. broke down each of the dishes for us in their article about the exciting new series:

“Umoja” (Unity) | Amazing Hibiscus Mulled Wine Kwanzaa Mimosa – Tonya is joined by her sister, Kenya Parham, to prepare a recipe celebrating the principle of Umoja, which emphasizes the importance of unity in all areas, including family, community, nation and race. Traditionally libations are served in a Kikombe Cha Umoja (Unity Cup) to acknowledge and honor the family units of present and past. 

“Kujichagulia (Self-Determination)” | Crispy Akara (Black-Eyed Pea Fritters) with Savory Smoky Sesame Sauce – The principle of Kujichagulia focuses on building one’s identity as a person and a community. In honor of that, Tonya whips up a dish with the help of special guest Kareem Grimes. The majority of Black Americans descended from (or passed through) the West African region, and this recipe is a way to make culinary contact and acknowledge that point of origin and ancestral journey. 

“Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility)” | Good Deeds Greens – In this episode, actress Taja V. Simpson joins Tonya to make a dish that embodies Ujima, which focuses on collective work and shared responsibility for both achievements and setbacks in the community and comes to life with this all-hands-on-deck recipe. 

“Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics)” | Black Sable Rice Calas – The principle of Ujamaa reinforces the third day’s principle, Ujima, by encouraging support of each other economically and within the community. Blue Telusma helps Tonya in the kitchen and discusses the origin of this dish created by Black women, as well as the history of Black Americans as the first food vendors and successful culinary entrepreneurs in America. 

“Nia (Purpose)” | First Fruits Harvest Smoothie Bowl – The principle of Nia means purpose and encourages us to move through life with intention, being mindful with our words and actions. In this episode, sisters Tonya and Kenya discuss restoration through healthy plant-based living while building this red, black and green dish. 

“Kuumba (Creativity)” | Yassa-Inspired Grilling – The principle of Kuumba is a time to reflect on leaving the community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it; to celebrate creativity and ingenuity by paying homage to creative works focusing on our rich history and vibrant future. Tonya is joined by Chef Brittney “Stikxz” Williams, developing a new seasoning blend that incorporates Caribbean influences over open-fire grilling. 

“Imani (Faith)” | Cassava with Peanut Stew – On this day the focus is on spiritual faith, a faith in one’s infinite possibilities, and a faith that persists through life’s challenges and adversities. Tonya and her father, Dr. Thomas Parham, share space in their family kitchen while making a dish representative of Africans in the New World.

We couldn’t be more proud of Tonya and we’re definitely hungry for more. If you can’t wait for the Kwanzaa special, make sure to tune into Savory and Sweet from 11 to noon every Sunday on WURD.


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Written by: Dylan Lewis

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