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Podcast Soundbites: Cooking Up Impact with Chef Tanya Holland

Podcast Soundbites: Cooking Up Impact with Chef Tanya Holland

In the first episode of Arabella Advisors’ new podcast series, Eric Kessler caught up with all-star chef and community leader, Tanya Holland. Here are a few soundbites from their conversation.

For more than 15 years, Arabella Advisors has focused on helping philanthropists, investors, and changemakers maximize their social and environmental impact. Since the beginning, we have been committed to finding new ways to share the stories and insights of the clients and partners we get to work with, who inspire us in all sorts of ways. Our recently launched podcast is a new way to share such stories and insights, even as the COVID-19 pandemic prevents us from gathering in person.

Our first podcast episode features a conversation between our founder, Eric Kessler, and chef, author, and community activist, Tanya Holland. Chef Tanya is well known for her impact both inside and outside of the kitchen, and both she and Eric see food as a lens into numerous issues that our work touches.

Asked about her impact and where she would like to effect the most change right now, Chef Tanya pointed to three areas that need attention:

  1. Sustainability: “there is so much education that still needs to happen in terms of composting, recycling and reusing, and how waste contributes to global warming.”
  2. Equity, Equality, and Inclusivity: “I want to see more women and people of color getting the same access to opportunities, especially when it comes to capital and business. I am really passionate about entrepreneurship. […] People can’t be successful if they don’t have access to the tools.”
  3. Real Estate: “That has to really be addressed in so many cities. For restaurants that can be a game changer—if they have a good real estate deal. Landlords and developers need to partner more with the restaurants if they want that amenity. And it’s not just a luxury; it provides culture.”

Along the way, Eric noted that “it seems like there is a real need to tear [our food systems] down and bring them back up,” and asked Chef Tanya if she is still optimistic about the food world. Her reply: “For the first time in my career, and my life, I just feel hopeful that this change is sustainable to really alter the systemic racism and sexism … As far as our industry, I feel like there is a new awareness; that people are realizing who’s been left out. And also, the younger generation seems to be really fighting for it.”

Tanya also noted that she has a deep sense of responsibility with her growing platform and influence and knows that these are her best tools for advancing change. She hopes to create a path so that those who follow in her footsteps can do so with a bit more ease, and she speaks of wanting to create a room “where everybody feels welcome.” That’s the atmosphere she cultivates at her award-winning restaurant, Brown Sugar Kitchen, and it’s an feeling she conveys at multiple points in her conversation with Eric.

You can hear that full conversation here.

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