Allison is an entrepreneur, CEO, chef and philanthropist. Her earliest memory and meal creation happened when she was still a toddler. Perched on the floor of her family’s Chicago home with a butter knife, a single slice of bread, a container of peanut butter and a jar of jelly, her first culinary creation was born. That memorable sandwich was the catalyst for a life-long love of creating delicious meals, where she graduated to daily sous chef for her Grandmother Lucinda and Mother Everlena, and then on to pursuing entrepreneurial opportunities fueled by her culinary expertise. These memorable cooking experiences led her on a journey she now shares with her husband, four children, and the world.
Tiera is a savvy businesswoman, creative and chef who continues to shower dinner plates with her culinary genius. She’s a tastemaker who creates and elevates appetizing recipes, artistically using spices and herbs to transcend ordinary meals into delectably exceptional ones. It’s how she shares her love of family and all who come to her table. Tiera credits her happy childhood memories of cooking with her family for broadening her skills as a chef, as she recreates treasured recipes from her past and shapes new ones to share with her husband, her children, and cooks everywhere.
This step-by-step instruction guide of recipes was lovingly handed down from a grandmother to her granddaughters. Lucinda Howard, who we affectionately called Big Momma, taught us how to clean chitterlings, pick greens, and snap peas before we were speaking in coherent sentences. She was a southern gem who guided the next generation of city-dwellers through her garden of secrets, into the best soul food cooking on the planet. That’s where the seeds of Southern City were planted. With attentive wisdom and incredible patience, she taught us that Sunday dinner was a culinary adventure that began on Saturday night – that good cooking was time-intensive and required endurance. Soaking beans, cleaning ribs and defrosting sweet meat were valuable lessons in fortitude and great care. We apply that wisdom to every meal we cook today. It was Big Momma’s influence, her beautiful way, and it’s her love that continues to season every meal.
This book is a testament to the power of recipes passed down from one generation to the next, where culinary history transforms into something new and extraordinary. We honor our family’s journey from a Mississippi farm, through a New Orleans juke joint, to Big Momma’s Chicago kitchen. We combine old-school basics with elevated flavors to create Lagniappe (pronounced lan-yap) – a New Orleans colloquialism that refers to an unexpected gift … we take a little bit of this and a little bit of that and we turn each recipe into a reflection of our family history and growth as chefs. This is our legacy, and now we offer this gift to you. In this way, Big Mamma’s kitchen belongs to all of us, and we welcome you in to cook with us as we taste and take delight in sharing this delicious inheritance with the world.