Letter -Thank you so kindly, Suffolkians

Published 5:12 pm Tuesday, July 25, 2023

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Food has always been a key component of my family’s identity. The food we ate was more than just a source of survival, but a source of celebration. A good meal was always a nice way to end a tough day or a way to cap off a great day. Growing up in a rural part of North Carolina, country staples were a huge part of my upbringing. Souse, chitterlings, scrapple and so many other parts of the pig are part of my common knowledge, not to mention tomato pudding, butter bean and candied yams.

But, being raised by parents who sought out other foods to delight the palate, gave me a pretty broad understanding of what’s good to eat. My mother’s love of Asian cuisine and cooking from other cultures and my father’s love for proper preparation and quality ingredients, inadvertently trained me on the ways of preparing a proper meal. My dear mother passed away in March 2009 and I lost my dad in April 2022. So, I feel like the standards and palate they provided were one of the best gifts they’d left behind for me.

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So, when I saw the application for Fav Chef competition with Carla Hall, benefitting the James Beard Foundation, I saw my opportunity to share my family’s brand of good eatin’ to a voting community. Sharing the stories behind my love of food and cooking with everyone was a very rewarding and therapeutic experience. It kept the spark to create my kind of food going and I hope it inspired you all to appreciate the beautiful ceremony of preparing a meal.

Now that my run in the race has ended, I could not be prouder of finishing in third place in my group. And, it is all thanks to the votes and support everyone showed me since the start of the competition. So, to all you Suffolkians who read about my entry in the competition in the Suffolk News-Herald and took my foodventure with me, I want to offer my sincere thank you. I had such an amazing time presenting my kitchen craft to those who followed me on Facebook and Instagram. Cooking has been so many things to me throughout my life. It’s been exciting. It’s been creative. It’s even been cathartic on a few occasions. I grew up in a home where it seemed like food was a loving calling card that drew us all back to a shared space to check in with one another. It felt so nice to share that with all of you this summer.

Again, thank you all so very kindly.

Troy Cooper