Source: Instagram – @dariuscooks

Darius Williams, better known as Darius Cooks on social media, has cooked up all-new soulful vegan meals for the month of January. This creative author, food blogger and entrepreneur continues to delight with his delectable culinary dishes. While Williams dishes out mouthwatering vegan recipes, he is also getting the foodies involved in his new Vegan, But With Soul! #SoulVegan group on Facebook.

Williams is the author of Stories from My Grandmother’s Kitchen: A Darius Williams Cookbook. This cookbook offers a collection of over 100 original recipes and memorable stories. And to involve all foodies, chefs and fans, this spring, Williams is offering an exclusive tour named Dining with Darius Cooks, which is a travelling dinner party series that may be coming to a city near you.

Williams recently spoke with rolling out to share his all-time favorite vegan and non-vegan recipes, what readers can expect from his Southern cookbook and what foodies can expect from his Dining with Darius Cooks tour this year.

You’re a renowned chef, a world traveler, and food connoisseur. Give us a little background on who Darius Williams is. Have you always wanted to be a chef? Do you have an extensive background in the culinary arts?

I am a regular guy. I mostly identify with being a regular food blogger. I create recipes, run a YouTube channel and rally people around the cause for food. I am not formally trained but, I like food and I like to eat. I think food is the at the epicenter of experiences and a lot of those experiences happens to be good experiences. Once I realized that food was the catalyst for folks having a good time, I always wanted to be involved. As for formal training, I was pretty much at my grandmothers’ hip while she cooked.

What inspires your recipe creations?

I take familiar ingredients and present them in brand new ways. The approach is realistic for a lot of people because I am not sourcing ingredients from [places like] the South of France. I am not having to import duck fat and do something that’s difficult [to create]. I am pushing the envelope on flavor profiles that people already know.

You’re the founder and owner of the restaurant Greens and Gravy located in Atlanta. You’re also an author, food blogger, YouTuber and more. How do you manage to balance your very demanding schedule?

I don’t look at it as work, when you do what you love it doesn’t seem like work. I have a staff that works for me and I have some great leaders to manage the [food] projects. The team part of it is important as well. [Teamwork] is the combination of doing what you love and making sure you have the right amount of people around you that understands and helps to carry out the vision.

Tell us about your book Stories from My Grandmother’s Kitchen: A Darius Williams Cookbook. What was your inspiration in writing this cookbook? What can readers expect?

[The cookbook] was a walk down memory lane. I used some creative spins on the normal classic [recipes]. I looked at a bunch of times that I got inspired by food. I remember there used to be a lady in our lunchroom in first grade and she would make these amazing cheese toast sandwiches. I made these crispy grilled cheese wontons that’s in the book [relating to the memory]. [The cookbook] is the inspiration for the things that have inspired me along my journey. [The question is] “How can we elevate [the recipes], present it differently or put a creative spin on it?” For me [the cookbook] was about, “How can I pay homage to the moments in my life where I have been super inspired?” The recipes that my grandmother used to cook effortlessly, I have watched her [cook] over and over again. [I asked myself] “How can I document those moments in time?” In terms of the expectations, I feel like people grew up the same way I grew up, without a silver spoon in our mouths [and] having to piece together recipes. Some people know what it is like to walk into a house on a Sunday and smell a pot of collard greens cooking, or walk into a house and smell fried chicken frying in the cast iron skillet. It’s those types of [recipes] that I try to recreate so that people can sort of go down that memory lane with me.

It seems that going vegan is a hot trend nowadays. And you’re creating complete soul vegan and plant-based meals for the month of January. What led you to create vegan recipes?

I’ve been listening to my audience. Vegan is a hot trend, people are watching documentaries about health and people are looking for a change. People are afraid to change because they feel like there are no resources that are out there to help guide them. So, they feel like [although] this is good for me I don’t want to eat salads, raw tomatoes and onions every day. [I asked myself] “What can I do to make this transition appealing?” When the topic of vegan came up, I decided why not? People just don’t have options or alternatives [to vegan recipes], if I could devise a menu and get some resources going we could potentially have a good time and build the community even stronger. We started the Soul Vegan group on Facebook and we are already at 34,000 people in the Facebook group.

It seems you have mastered both down-home Southern cooking and soul vegan food. Do you have any different food endeavors that you will be trying out? Possibly a vegan cookbook?

Yes, that’s the plan. The vegan cookbook is already in the works. It should be out in the spring or the beginning of summer. We are going to do a tour this year and we have 17 cities that we will be traveling to for Dining with Darius Cooks, my travelling dinner party series. So, we’ll hit those [cities] for 17 weeks starting in May. We’re looking at expanding Greens and Gravy [the restaurant] in other cities.

Can you share with us two of your all-time favorite recipes, one Southern and one vegan?

Southern recipes (Non-vegan):

  • 6-hour wine braised short rib and lemon pepper honey fried chicken

Vegan recipes:

  • Cauliflower street tacos and Jamaican sweet potato curry

What’s the best way for people to get in touch with you?

Instagram: @dariuscooks, Twitter: @dariuscooks, Email: [email protected]

 Check out Darius Cooks on his website, Dariuscooks.tv

Nailah Heard

Journalist. Photographer. Filmmaker. Minnesota Native. Instagram: @heardnailah