A Buffalo State Alum has gone from Food Network star to published author.
Lazarus Lynch released his first cookbook Tuesday, Son of a Southern Chef: Cook with Soul and it’s filled with childhood recipes and inspirational quotes to keep you moving in the kitchen!
A two-time Chopped Champion, Lynch has guest starred on several shows including The Today Show, The Wendy Williams Show and Beat Bobby Flay all before the age of 26.
We caught up with the former Bengal to hear about the inspiration behind his cookbook and what it means to cook with soul.
What was the inspiration behind this cook book?
Lynch:“It’s in memory of my father the late Johnny Ray Lynch. He was a chef, and he owned a restaurant in New York called Baby Sister Soul Food.My dad grew up in Alabama and learned how to cook from his mother and his grandmother and the restaurant was the last business he owned. I started writing about my experience cooking with my dad when I got to college and I created the brand Son of a Southern Chef where I started to reinterpret the recipes he showed me and put them in a modern millennial lens. This book is a love letter to him, a love letter to the food I grew up eating and a gift from my father to me and now I’m passing that gift on to the world.”
The cookbook has been called the “Soul Food Bible” What does that mean to you?
Lynch: “The spirit of what that means is that if you’re looking for soul food, if you’re looking for inspiration and just to feel good, this is a destination for you.
It will land at that place for you. There are recipes here that are totally inspired by my childhood and things I grew up eating when I was a kid but also some reinvented .
There’s also a flair from my mothers side. My mothers from Guyana so there’s a little bit of Caribbean flair some jerk chicken, a little something for everybody. There’s also some soulful quotes just to help people live a more inspiring life so I think that’s what that means.”
Was there any advice you got a Buffalo State that sticks out ?
Lynch: Deborah Kloepfer was a professor at Buffalo State College, and she was my writing professor. It was a freshman year, and we all had to take this into to writing class and everybody was like oh we don’t want to do that but it was creative. We talked about what it takes to build a sentence, things that you think people know. She was so clever, and she helped me to figure out a lot of the basics in writing and one day she pulled me to the side and said you’re a really good writer. At the time I was in nutrition and theater but I put it in my back pocket and didn’t really think a lot about it but many years later I’ve written a book. It was important to have that adult encouragement .”
What does cooking with soul mean to you?
Laz: Taking anything that you have, putting a lot of love into it and serving it to people that you love. That’s the definition of cooking with soul. That’s what I learned from my father, that’s what I learned by growing up in the church and having a community around me. Part of saying I love you is sharing a good plate of food.”
What advice to you have for someone just starting out in the kitchen?
Laz: Just have fun. I think there’s a quote in here where I say pop a bottle , throw on some Beyonce and just get in the kitchen and cook! Let it be a vibe and don’t worry about if you have this certain ingredient or if your kitchen gets a little messy. I saw a lot of cookbooks out there that were very to the point and professional and I wanted something with a little more character. Nothing in this book looks perfect and I think that’s honest and real and makes people feel that they can cook from it.