Brown Sugar Kitchen restaurateur Tanya Holland has begun the second season of her podcast. (Courtesy Smeeta Mahanti)

Brown Sugar Kitchen restaurateur Tanya Holland has begun the second season of her podcast. (Courtesy Smeeta Mahanti)

Tanya Holland takes her kitchen table conversations online

Brown Sugar Kitchen chef chats with varied lineup of guests

By Hannah Bennett

Bay Area chef Tanya Holland is drawing on the comfort of a home-cooked meal around the kitchen table – and a microphone – to show that people have more in common than they think.

“I get excited when I can learn something from people and connect with them in a way they might not expect,” says Holland, owner and executive chef of Brown Sugar Kitchen, the Oakland restaurant famous for its creative interpretations of soul food.

Holland, who kicked off the second season of her podcast “Tanya’s Table” with episodes featuring Ayesha Curry on Jan. 19 and Danny Glover on Jan. 26, has an impressive lineup to come, including singer Bonnie Raitt on Feb. 3, Olympic skier Jonny Moseley on March 9, and activist and former Black Panther Ericka Huggins on March 23.

Holland enjoys getting to know each person’s unique relationship to food. She says, “I don’t even know the ideology of half these people, or what their religious beliefs might be. That’s not important. We have discovered that we have more similarities than differences. We have to unite.”

The goal when making “Tanya’s Table” was to create a kitchen table atmosphere where guests and listeners feel comfortable and at home. And the episodes, which typically run about an hour, don’t necessarily focus solely on food.

“I want it to feel like a conversation and not an interview, so it feels like organic topics will happen, just like if you were sitting at a kitchen table,” says Holland, who’s no stranger to celebrity. She has authored multiple cookbooks, hosted a recurring segment on the Oprah Winfrey Network and competed in Season 15 of “Top Chef” in 2017.

Approached last summer to do a podcast, Holland’s first episode of “Tanya’s Table” was on July 28, 2020 featuring Questlove. In the first season of the show — which is produced by MuddHouse Media and can be heard on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and Stitcher — Holland spoke with Tyler Florence, Alice Waters, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Ledisi and Kevin Youkilis (he owns Loma Brewing Company in Los Gatos), among others.

Creating a podcast in the middle of a pandemic was an adjustment for Holland, whose specialty is gathering people together for a good meal. She says, “Doing a podcast, you don’t get that other sensory experience that you get off a person when you see their smile and feed off of their energy.”

But she found a silver lining, in that the world began to work remotely. “The bonus is that a lot of people who I wouldn’t normally be able to access have been available,” she says.

It isn’t an accident that the second season of “Tanya’s Table” comes at a moment when people are missing sharing meals with loved ones and the nation’s political division hangs over every interaction like a shroud.

“It chimes in with where we are at this point. The timing was great with the inauguration,” Holland says.

She hopes listeners will get more from the project than the standard conversation they may expect. “It’s really just about finding those simple things that we have in common and realizing that we can all get along.”

“Tanya’s Table” guests

Feb. 2 — Bonnie Raitt

Feb. 9 — Phil Rosenthal

Feb. 16 — Alicia Garza

Feb. 23 — Elizabeth Falkner

March 2 — Lars Ulrich

March 9 — Jonny Moseley

March 16 — Maneet Chauhan

March 23 — Ericka Huggins

March 30 — Lizz Wright

April 6 — Festus Ezeli

April 13 — Edouardo Jordan

April 20 — Karen Akunowicz

Food and Wine

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Although The City has been shut down and largely empty, people have enjoyed gathering in places such as Dolores Park. <ins>(Al Saracevic/The Examiner)</ins>
Come back to San Francisco: The City needs you now

Time to get out of the house, people. The City’s been lonely… Continue reading

A surveillance camera outside Macy’s at Union Square on Tuesday, July 28, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Is the tide turning against surveillance cameras in SF?

Crime-fighting camera networks are springing up in commercial areas all around San… Continue reading

San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott speaks alongside Mayor London Breed at a news conference about 2019 crime statistics at SFPD headquarters on Jan. 21, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
What the media gets wrong about crime in San Francisco

By Lincoln Mitchell Special to The Examiner Seemingly every day now, you… Continue reading

Vice President Kamala Harris is under fire for her comments in Guatemala earlier this week. (Examiner file photo.)
SF immigration advocates slam Kamala Harris’ ‘betrayal’ to her past

Kamala Harris’ comments earlier this week discouraging Central Americans from traveling to… Continue reading

Youth activists with the Sunrise Movement march along a rural road during their two-week trek from Paradise to San Francisco to call attention to an increase in deadly wildfires as a result of climate change on June 2, 2021. (Photo by Brooke Anderson)
Weeks-long climate march culminates on the Golden Gate Bridge

Lola’s alarm goes off most mornings before dawn. The 17-year-old high school… Continue reading

Most Read