Chef Erika Boyd did the impossible with her partner Kirsten Ussery when she opened the Black-owned Detroit Vegan Soul in the West Village neighborhood. And they’re out to dispel the myth that healthy food lacks personality.
Detroit Vegan Soul reopened its Grandmont Rosedale location for online and pick up orders April 1, rising from a three-month hiatus. Staffing woes had shuttered its flagship, brick-and-mortar spot on Agnes Street in historic West Village in December.
“I’m very excited because this is a fresh start,” said chef and co-owner Erika Boyd told Bridge Detroit.
Because the food is vegan, a diet that restricts the use of any animal product, eggs and milk included-other ingredients like soy and tofu are substituted for regular staples.
“My current cooking style is soulful comfort food,” says Boyd, a self-taught chef. My style is influenced by soul food, pan-Asian and Afro-Caribbean flavors. That explains recipes like smothered tempeh, black-eyed pea hummus and a “catfish” tofu sandwich.
“There’s no way I could cook any cuisine without making sure it’s flavorful, so at the restaurant I prepare flavorful food with a health focus,” Boyd says. “Our food is soul food-inspired but completely plant-based and dispels all those crazy myths about vegan food being bland or unfamiliar.”
Boyd draws inspiration from her grandmother and her father when she’s in the kitchen. Among the guests at her grandmother’s dinner table: the Rev. Charles Adams of Detroit’s Hartford Memorial Baptist Church and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, President Obama’s former pastor.
Because cooks in Black families “pour their heart and soul” into these dinners, Boyd says time together enjoying the meal is crucial.
“It brings the whole family together with a focus on the love shared among one another. No matter what a family has endured all year, we always come together to reminisce and break bread”Chef Erika Boyd