The 100 Most Influential People of 2021
Kelly Marshall
By Carla Hall
September 15, 2021 7:19 AM EDT

For me, the work that Jessica B. Harris has done has given me a deeper sense of who I am as an African American, and why I should be proud to be an African American. It’s one thing to have Black history, but she has the ability to relay information from the perspective of the culture, looking at our food and what our ancestors have eaten—our DNA on a plate.

She has a way of sharing things that have happened in our culture, whether in Senegal, other West African countries or the States, and giving you a sense of pride, because of the knowledge that she has. Her critical thinking helps you to question the things that you’re told or things that you think are true.

Eating is something that we all have to do every day, and she has had a huge influence on the way we eat. Through work like her best-selling book, High on the Hog: A Culinary Journey From Africa to America, and the 2021 Netflix series it inspired, Jessica makes food more approachable—it’s not intimidating, it’s very much accessible. And she gives you the confidence to make a dish. I think that Jessica’s voice is necessary, not just in this very small and intimate industry, but on a bigger stage.

Hall is a chef and writer

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