Eden Hagos is a celebrated host, food writer, and founder of the media and events company, Black Foodie. She’s an Ethiopian Canadian with a passion for African and Caribbean cuisine and hosts unique food events throughout Toronto. Her work has been featured in the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Essence, and CBC.
What’s a day in the life of Toronto’s own Black Foodie like?
The first thing I usually do is get ready for the day and grab one of my pre-made breakfast bites. I’m sort of obsessed with it and meal prep right now. I have been experimenting with everything from sweet potato oat muffins to egg muffins.
My to-do list changes depending on whether there is a client call I need to prepare for or an upcoming Black Foodie event.
Generally my to do list includes:
- checking emails
- reaching out to potential partners for events
- researching trends in food for video content and working on client projects, and
- checking in with the Black foodie team who are the reason Black Foodie is growing and thriving.
We meet regularly throughout the week to plan for the next Black Foodie project. We’re all very passionate about the brand so our meetings can get pretty animated. I’m also working on a few separate foodie projects like my Taste of Ethiopia food tour on Airbnb and a curated Ethiopian spice set this season.
Before, my lunch would usually include some sort of delicious African or Caribbean food from one of the many great restaurants in the city, but I’ve cut back a bit on eating out as it was starting to catch up with me. So now lunch is usually some roasted veggies and an East African inspired sauce with quinoa or rice. I promise, it tastes better than it sounds.
I check social media all the time, I think it’s amazing that I can interact with people from around the world who also have a passion for food. If you aren’t already, I definitely encourage Ayiba readers to follow and connect with Black Foodie on Instagram at @blackfoodie.co & @edenthefoodie
I don’t really have many bedtime rituals yet. This might sound strange, but I love podcasts so I usually catch up on episodes as I prepare to go to sleep.
Why did you feel Black Foodie needed to be a blog and event series? How do you feel the two support each other?
At first events were a way for me to do research in a fun way, I hosted meetups and asked people what they wanted to see on the site and the types of content they prefer. I quickly saw that these meet-ups could turn into something larger. Food is something you experience, everyone can connect over great food. Black Foodie events allow us to bring our content to life, interact with our readers and showcase amazing Black chefs, cuisines, and culture.
Injera and Chill was the first event and this was a celebration of East African food and culture. The response was incredible so I continued hosting it and it grew into a large food event and party that has been celebrated by the community and the press. I hope to take it on the road in 2018. Black Foodie’s events include a Caribbean food battle, Doubles vs Patties, and the West African food battle and party, Jollof Wars.
Up next, we are planning a summit to bring the leading Black voices in food together.
Why do you focus on “spotlighting African, Caribbean, and Southern U.S. cuisines and food cultures?” What does it mean to you to showcase these particular cuisines and food cultures?
We focus on these types of cuisines because we want to celebrate the foods that come from the diaspora. I grew up ashamed of my cultural food and traditions. I now have a new appreciation and outlook on my cuisine, and I hope to inspire others to have a new love, understanding and respect for the food that comes from our roots. It means a great deal to me to see people choose to hire Black caterers or celebrate at a Black-owned restaurant, and support the food and people from our communities. Who says you can’t celebrate with jollof or injera or even French cuisine made by a Black French chef. I hope spotlighting Black changemakers in food will get people to challenge their assumptions and perceptions of food from the diaspora.
How would you describe Black food culture in Toronto? Where are your favorite places to eat in the city?
I’d describe it as exciting and shifting. There are a number of Caribbean and East African restaurants across the city and I think it has made meals like oxtail with rice and peas and an Ethiopian vegetarian platter a part of Toronto culture.
I think we are a lot more open in this city to try different cuisines and fuse cultures together in our cooking. The fact that so much of the younger generation grew up eating foods from other cultural groups has created the perfect environment for fusion to happen. I hope to see more West African restaurants pop-up in Toronto (especially the downtown core).
Call attention to this * Some of my favourite restaurants in Toronto include Le Baratin, Simones Caribbean Restaurant, and Abyssinia Restaurant. *
Of the world cities you’ve visited, which has had the most interesting or diverse food cultures?
I really love New Orleans, the food is absolutely delicious. Add to that, it’s a beautiful city with such a rich history. If you’re a seafood lover like me, it should definitely be your next stop. Once you try their perfectly seasoned crawfish or shrimp etouffee, bbq oysters, and Shrimp po’boys, you’ll understand. Another reason I love this city is because of my sweet tooth. I absolutely loved heading out for beignets and trying all the different flavours of pralines.
Tell us about your experience travelling with Injera + Chill. How did the experience differ from one place to another?
My experience travelling with Injera + Chill was a really fun and exciting way to connect with East African food around the world and the people who love it.
The first edition was in Toronto. It was a pop-up event and even though we had put up a flyer just days before, the restaurant was packed. East Africans and injera lovers from across the city came to enjoy East African food with us. It just so happened soon after that I was heading to London, UK and an East African from there had reached out to me via social media to say that Injera and Chill sounded dope. It was perfect timing. He helped me choose a location at an awesome Eritrean restaurant in Brixton and advertise. In Atlanta, Black Foodie brought together amazing chefs and cool foodies – some who were trying Ethiopian food for the first time.
It was there I got an African-American perspective on our cuisine and gained a new appreciation for Ethiopian / Eritrean cuisine, as one guest described that the communal way East african food is eaten brought him closer to family and friends. In the UK, I listened intently as food bloggers spoke about the beauty of Eritrean food in a British accent. It was so exciting to see how an idea could take shape into an actual event that brought people together spanning multiple countries and cultures!
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