How I became a Dine Diaspora ‘Black Women In Food’ awardee
Dine Diaspora, a Washington, D.C.-based food and beverage agency, announced its sixth annual “Black Women in Food” awardees March 1, 2023. And I made it into this number. Out of more than 600 nominees, the agency included me as one of 31 honorees. Dine Diaspora selects honorees from a public nomination process reviewed by expert judges. The awards celebrate exceptional contributions to the food system and Black women around the world who contribute to this historical establishment.
Fittingly tied to this year’s Women’s History Month theme of “Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories,” Dine Diaspora recognized my contributions to rural and agricultural storytelling in its “Amplifiers Category.” This category featured four of us who continue to leverage our voice and platforms to highlight stories or narratives in the food system (journalists, authors, photographers, podcasters, filmmakers). More about my work within this space, along with fellow honorees who I share this category with:
CANDACE DANTES is a fourth-generation farmer and cowgirl. An award-winning journalist and editor from the Georgia Black Belt Region, she grew up on her great-grandparents’ cattle farm outside of Milledgeville, Georgia. Developing a deep appreciation for the land and agriculture, she has since become a strategic storyteller with a focus on print-to-digital communication. Currently, she serves as the communications director for the national not-for-profit organization Outdoor Afro. Candace has also contributed to U.S. Department of Agriculture research grant Black Farmers’ Network where she served as project manager and education reporter. Today, she collaborates with major brands, including Wrangler, Justin Boots, REI Co-op and CLIF BAR®, to help shift the narrative around Black farmers’ and communities’ connections to nature while redefining the American West and American South storylines.
MARGO GABRIEL is a Haitian-American journalist, author, and associate producer originally from Boston. Now based in Lisbon, Portugal, Gabriel’s culinary talents are on full display in her celebrated cookbook, “The Expat Kitchen.” Her work has been featured in New York Times, Conversas Ao Sul, Pùblico and Time Out Lisboa. Her writing has also graced the pages of Boston Art Review, Culinary Backstreets, Fodor’s Travel and Refinery29. As a contributing writer at Cuisine Noir magazine and the Food & Drink columnist at Lisbon by Time Out Lisboa, Gabriel shares her insights on food, culture and travel. Her passion for exploring the world through its cuisine is evident in her writing, which offers a fresh and exciting perspective on global food trends.
DEBRA FREEMAN is a nationally recognized food writer whose work explores the cultural memory and history of African-American foodways. Her writing has appeared in publications like Eater, Condé Nast Traveler and Epicurious. Freeman’s passion for food and its connection to African-American experience is evident in her work, which often intertwines her personal food history with larger cultural themes. In addition to her writing, Freeman is the host of the critically acclaimed podcast “Setting the Table” on Whetstone Radio Collective. The show explores African-American culinary talents and their impact on American cuisine, featuring discussions with notable food scholars and chefs. Apple Podcasts named the podcast as one of their “Shows We Loved” in 2022.
VALERIE WILSON is a seasoned public relations and brand strategist in the food, wine, hospitality and lifestyle industries. As a vice president at MMGY Wagstaff, she has advised clients from Wines from Spain to the Miss America organization. Wilson’s extensive hospitality experience includes leading media relations for NYC Restaurant Week, Restaurant Day, and the James Beard Foundation. She began her career with the team that created National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. With her own firm, ValincPR, Wilson has made a significant impact on Harlem’s culinary scene, working with influential organizations like Harlem Park to Park and Harlem EatUp! She has also crafted branding strategies for top professionals in art and interior design, securing coveted cover stories for her clients in major design publications. Wilson’s work has attracted big-name brands like Uber, Shea Moisture and celebrity chef JJ Johnson.
Created by Nina Oduro and Maame Boakye, Dine Diaspora reinforces the influence of African food culture globally. The Black-woman owned and operated agency is steeped in culinary, community and commerce in Washington, D.C. Dine Diaspora works with culinary creatives and brands to drive value in existing and new markets. It has been featured in Cuisine Noir, Condé Nast Traveler and The Local Palate. The agency also provides digital marketing; immersive culinary experience design and production; influencer engagement; and food business resource development.