Toni Tipton-Martin is an award-winning food and nutrition journalist and community activist who is busy building a healthier community through her books, classes, and foundation. She has been invited twice by First Lady Michelle Obama to the White House for her outreach to help families live healthier lives, and also received the 2014 Southern Foodways Alliance John Egerton Prize for this work. With the Egerton Prize as seed money, Toni hosted Soul Summit: A Conversation About Race, Identity, Power and Food in Austin over Juneteenth weekend. This unprecedented 3-day gathering invited writers, scholars, authors, chefs, students and anyone interested in food justice to come together and celebrate African American Foodways.
Toni is the author of the upcoming book, The Jemima Code: Two Centuries of African American Cookbooks (University of Texas Press, Fall 2015), which tells the story behind her rare collection. The crown-jewel of this treasure-trove is a first-edition house servant’s directory published in Boston in 1827. The Jemima Code also is the title of her blog, and a traveling exhibit, featuring larger-than-life images of black cooks at work, curated from Toni’s gallery of authors. In 2005, she published an historic reprint of an early 20th century cookbook, The Blue Grass Cook Book, by Minnie C. Fox (University Press of Kentucky). Blue Grass contains the first known photographs of African American cooks and presents a new portrait of a role model working women can respect and learn from today. Toni also is co-author of A Taste of Heritage: New African-American Cuisine (Macmillan) and wrote the chapter on the South for Culinaria: The Food of the United States (Konemann).
In 1991, Toni became the first African American woman to hold the position of food editor at a major daily newspaper, the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Prior to that post, she was the nutrition writer for the Los Angeles Times and a contributing editor to Heart and Soul Magazine (a health and fitness book for African-American women)
Toni has been a guest instructor at Whole Foods Culinary Center, and has appeared on the Cooking Channel’s Foodography and the PBS feature Juneteenth Jamboree. She has been a featured speaker at the University of North Carolina – Charlotte; Austin History Center; the Longone Center for American Culinary Research, William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan; Roger Smith Cookbook Conference; Foodways Texas; Culinary Historians of Southern California; International Association of Culinary Professionals; Les Dames D’Escoffier; Webster College; Prairie View A&M University; Women Chefs and Restaurateurs; the College of Charleston; Mississippi University for Women; and Austin Foodways. She has shared her passion for cooks and the community as a freelance writer for UNC Wilmington’s Ecotone Journal, the Austin Chronicle, Texas Co-op Magazine, Gastronomica The Journal of Food and Culture, and Cooking Light Magazine.
In 2008, after 30 years teaching cooking in the media and demonstrations, Toni founded The SANDE Youth Project as a grassroots outreach to improve the lives of vulnerable families. The 501(c)(3) not-for-profit is dedicated to combating childhood hunger, obesity and disease by promoting the connection between cultural heritage, cooking, and wellness. Through community partnership with the University of Texas, and collaborations with Oldways Preservation Trust, the City of Austin, Edible Austin Magazine, and others, Toni’s organization presents hands-on, culturally-sensitive, culinary-focused activities for the community, including nutrition classes in mobile settings and at its annual signature event, the Children’s Picnic and Real Food Fair.
She is a co-founder and president of the board of Foodways Texas, and on the board of the community-building organization Peace Through Pie. She is on the Broadcast Committee for the James Beard Awards and the African Heritage Diet Pyramid Advisory Committee for Oldways. Toni is a member of Les Dames D’Escoffier Austin Chapter, the International Association of Culinary Professionals, and Jack and Jill of America, Inc., and is a co-founder and former president of Southern Foodways Alliance. Toni is a graduate of the University of Southern California School of Journalism and lives in Austin with her husband. She is the mother of four.