BBQ Queen Tanya Holland’s Recipe for Jerk Baby Back Ribs

About This Project

Essence Magazine

Tanya Holland has a pioneer’s spirit. Thirteen years ago the French-trained chef—who worked under Bobby Flay, co-hosted Food Network’s Melting Pot and wrote New Soul Cooking: Updating a Cuisine Rich in Flavor and Tradition (Stewart, Tabori & Chang)—moved from New York City to the Bay Area. Back East, she’d been known for pairing fresh, seasonal and sustainable foods with Black culinary traditions. But after relocating to California and opening her first restaurant, Brown Sugar Kitchen, in 2008, Holland decided to bring her own style and talents to the pit with her latest eatery, B-Side BBQ: “When it comes to barbecue, everybody has their region that they have an affinity for, so right away they are like, ‘Well, what region is this?’ And I say, ‘It’s my style—it’s Oakland style.’ ” To develop her technique, Holland—who serves as co-president for the San Francisco chapter of the prestigious Les Dames d’Escoffier, an exclusive organization for women in the culinary field—became a student of barbecuing methods, traveling across the country to figure out which flavors worked for her. While Texas may have influenced her brisket, you can choose from various regional styles for items like the pulled-pork sandwich, depending on whether you prefer vinegar-, mustard- or tomato-based sauce. But no matter the dish, everything is Cali-fresh. “People come in thinking the barbecue will be from a certain region and that the pitmaster is going to be a guy,” says Phil Surkis, Holland’s husband and business partner. “I’m really proud of my wife for being the pitmaster and defining something new. She’s doing her own thing.”

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