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Toni Tipton-Martin Writes Her Own Legacy

Toni Tipton-Martin, a cookbook writer and the editor in chief of Cook’s Country, is unveiling details for her foundation, which will now be known as the Toni Tipton-Martin Foundation, to support future generations of women in food.

Ms. Tipton-Martin, this year’s recipient of the Julia Child Award from the Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts, will use the $50,000 award as seed money for the Toni Tipton-Martin Foundation, a revitalization of her SANDE Youth Project, which championed several goals, such as celebrating cultural heritage and promoting wellness. (SANDE Youth, founded in 2008, has been dormant for about five years.)

“I have spent most of my career trying to advance the marginalized members of our community, generally speaking, but specifically women,” said Ms. Tipton-Martin, the author of “The Jemima Code: Two Centuries of African American Cookbooks,” and “Jubilee: Recipes from Two Centuries of African American Cooking.” “Now I’m able to actually make that a project that goes on forever.”

To build the foundation, Ms. Tipton-Martin is working with journalists, including A’Lelia Bundles, a writer who is also the great-great granddaughter of Madam C.J. Walker. Walker’s salons — which were held at the turn of the 20th century and influenced social change through food and drink, socializing and networking — provided some inspiration for the foundation.

Ms. Tipton-Martin will run the organization as a nonprofit, and with the uptick in online conferences and workshops during the pandemic, she plans to make programming available online, in virtual salons, to anyone interested in uplifting and advocating the voices of women in food.

“Cookbooks have always been the space where women could leave a legacy where they can control their own voice and their craft in ways that were acceptable,” she said. “So the idea of inspiring teaching, training up educating the next generation of food writers is important for continuing on that legacy.”

A videotaped conversation for the Smithsonian that will air on Nov. 12 is an example of the type of programming she hopes to offer. Her foundation will roll out its full schedule next spring, including live and archived discussions and presentations among women writers, writing workshops that focus on skills like recipe development and cookbook writing, and question-and-answer forums.

These salons, Ms. Tipton-Martin said, are designed to explore and elevate women’s voices in food, untarnished by the longstanding, albeit slowly shifting, legacy of male dominance and exceptionalism in food; to encourage women writers to resist patterns of silence and erasure; and to push back against discriminatory behavior in food.

“Her work has opened the door for Black women,” said Psyche Williams-Forson, the chair of American Studies at the University of Maryland, who is on the advisory board for the new foundation. “What she brings to those pages is the beauty, the triumphs, the tragedies, disappointments, the hardships, et cetera, of a Black life that we live. We want future generations to do that as well.”

Ms. Williams-Forson also believes that the foundation will amplify the longstanding resilience of Black women.

“Many attempts have been made to silence our voices,” she said. “But we’ve always operated in the culinary world, both out front and behind the scenes.”

Ms. Tipton-Martin wants the foundation to be a collaborative place, bringing role models together to help the next generation of women in food.

“There’s so much more that we can learn when we care for one another,” Ms. Tipton-Martin said, “when we share, when we listen, when we befriend one another, and when we see each other through the lens of our shared humanity.”


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