Stories / Impact

Doctor it Up in the Kitchen with Tanya Holland

Take a look inside Tanya Holland’s favorite pantry staples

Morgan Carter

April 21, 2022


Image of Tanya Holland behind a step and repeat
Photo: Galdones Photography

Tanya Holland doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. After a landmark 15-year run that made Brown Sugar Kitchen the beloved Oakland staple for all things soul food, the award-winning chef, Top Chef contestant, and alum of our first Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership (WEL) program is staying busy, hosting her own TV show, Tanya’s Kitchen Table on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, and preparing for the launch of her a new cookbook, Tanya Holland's California Soul. We caught up with the multi-hyphenate chef to get back to the heart of it all: food. Take a look inside her pantry to see how Tanya “doctors it up” in the kitchen:

  • Tamari: “It’s light, salty, umami—and goes great with meats, tofu, and vegetables."
  • Coconut milk: “Vegetable plus stock plus coconut milk equals creamy soup that is rich in flavor and taste, but dairy-free.”
  • For a hit of spice, Tanya turns to Calabrian chili paste which is her “favorite condiment to doctor up, as my mother would say, which is a down-home way of saying add some extra flavor to a store-bought or pre-made item. I like to add this to a rotisserie chicken, a simple pasta dish, or roasted broccoli with my creamed kale."
  • Dijon mustard: “I love the bite of dijon on a sandwich or burger, but also as the foundation for a classic vinaigrette."
  • And to add a little something special to her dishes, Tanya turns to her own collection of My Brown Sugar Kitchen spice blends. “A little goes a long way with my Creole spice, Blackening spice, Jerk spice, and North African Spice. They are flexible for meats or vegetables. They hold up best to high heat or slow, long cooking.”


Morgan Carter is the content manager at the James Beard Foundation. Find her on Instagram and Twitter.