Sangha Social Club
Proudly for women only, Sangha Social Club is a curated exploration into the alchemy of both culinary experiences and community building. Founded in Los Angeles in late 2021 by a diverse collective of friends with a passion for food and culture, they carefully curated a guest list for their inaugural dinner in the hopes that magnetic energy and tantalizing small plates could help inspire impactful conversation and community among the group. Pronounced sung-ha, Sangha is a Sanskrit word that translates to "community.” With this guiding tenet, Sangha Social Club was born.
Finding inspiration from seasonal ingredients, as well as various memes and historic photographs of women of color indulging in luxury, helps guide the seasonal palette they explore at each dinner. “Rihanna walking in a Balenciaga fur with a glass of wine. Celia Cruz smiling over a birthday cake. Chef Edna Lewis being elegant in the kitchen. Nina Simone swaddled in sheets having breakfast in bed… this is what we’re inspired by.”
Spearheaded by marketing executive and head chef Whitney McGowan, the meals are curated around seasonal offerings and natural markers, such as a solstice or equinox. After creating an exciting, layered menu, McGowan employs the rest of the Sangha team. Rinchen Lama, a production executive, leads production and shares design duties with photographer Natalia Vieira. In addition, Vieria manages the custom musical showcase in collaboration with SOMSIREN. Famed mixologist Amy Koffsky leads beverages and partnerships, while Nereya Otieno rounds out the collective as the sous chef and content writer.
With an emphasis on building community among womxn, the collective believes that one dinner at a time can help bridge the gap between various outlooks, perspectives, and approaches to life. Held quarterly, the next gathering is scheduled for Fall 2022 in Los Angeles.
Sweet Potato Soul
You’re not truly living in Southern California until you’ve experimented with any variation of the cleaner-eating aesthetic that is pervasive throughout the region. Chef Jenné Claiborne, a Georgia transplant to the LA area, is one of the changemakers who has helped usher in this lifestyle change. By sharing flavorful vegan recipes and other wellness tips, she hopes to encourage other people of color to embrace the lifestyle.
As an observer of ahimsa, an ancient Indian principle of nonviolence that applies to all living beings, Chef Claiborne prioritizes not only a vegan diet but also shares common allergen substitutes and avoids processed vegan alternatives. One of her most popular recipes, West African Peanut Stew, is nut-free. Another recipe, Vegan Crab Cakes, employs a unique twist with Hearts of Palm and chickpeas to replicate the meaty crab texture.
“A lot of people still believe that you have to really go out of your way to make it taste good. Where in reality, the spices and flavors that we use for all sorts of cooking are plant-based, right? So it's not like you're seasoning your food with animal products; you're usually seasoning your food with plant-based products, to begin with. So I think it's important to recognize that plants have so much flavor and deliciousness on their own.”
As she is sure to call out on her blog, “Even my hardcore crab cake-loving family in Maryland loves this recipe!” You can check out these recipes, and more, in her cookbook Sweet Potato Soul:100 Easy Vegan Recipes for the Southern Flavors of Smoke, Sugar, Spice, and Soul.
In addition to her blog, Claiborne also hosts a highly successful YouTube channel, where nearly 700,000 subscribers eagerly await her easily accessible plant-based recipes. This multimedia brand and powerhouse has leveraged her success and expanded into the “Mommy” blogger space with the birth of her daughter in 2019.
By now, most of us are familiar with the 2021 Netflix documentary, High on the Hog: How African American Cuisine Transformed America. Narrated by Stephen Satterfield, the noteworthy Chef, sommelier, and writer, the docu-series has helped redefine American soul food by tracing its roots across centuries and landscapes spanning Africa to Texas.
Aside from revealing just how impactful the African American influence has been on American cuisine, High on the Hog has also helped amplify Whetstone Media and Radio, a California-based magazine and media company dedicated to food origins and culture around the world. Co-founded by Satterfield and including a team of global creatives representing over 80 countries, Whetstone’s Radio Collective brings us a distinctive series of original podcasts focused on global foodways.
Whetstone Radio’s narrative-based audio stories are shared through the lens of food anthropology. Empathetic in origin, with cinematic sound and intimate, curiosity-minded conversation, this is a podcast collective that stands apart from the crowd. By tuning in, you can learn more about any number of topics, including the fight to preserve Indigenous foodways, exploring the diversity of agave and history of mezcal, and how a single ingredient can take on many wondrous forms when exploring how sustainable crops are used in similar climate zones around the world.