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Arts & Culture

Chef Hanan Shabazz Reminds Asheville Of Its Black Restaurant Roots

An older Black woman standing in chef's gear: a black apron with a black buttoned shirt underneath and a black cap. The woman is looking off to the right and is wearing glasses
Courtesy of Sprouthouse Agency

When Hanan Shabazz was a child in her grandmother’s Asheville home, she remembers their house as the one where those in need of a good meal would come to be freely fed. The experience was formative for her as she grew up and opened Shabazz Restaurant in the early 1970s. The restaurant was part of Asheville's thriving Black business scene in the historic neighborhood known as The Block until urban renewal forced its closure. 

However, Chef Hanan has continued feeding others, both inside and outside of restaurants. She was one of the organizers of Kitchen Ready, a nonprofit-funded culinary career-readiness program and most recently helped to re-launch the Southside Community Kitchen, which trains aspiring chefs and feeds seniors and those in need in Asheville. Chef Hanan was this year’s recipient of the annual Ruth Fertel Keeper of the Flame Award, an honor presented by The Southern Foodways Alliance, to celebrate her work as a food activist, cultural historian, and visionary. Host Frank Stasio talks to Chef Hanan about her life and career.

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