When I first clicked through the recipes at Thug Kitchen, a tongue-in-cheek, vegan cooking blog served up with a heaping side of expletives, I imagined a calorie-conscious, gangly young black man who’s particularly vehement about clean eating, insistently tapping recipes into his blog while Dead Prez reverberates in the background. He has a good eye, too, as he complements such recipes as “Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Quinoa and Motherf–king Cranberries” with Pinterest-worthy pics and the tagline, “Eat like you give a f–k.”
With African Americans especially plagued with obesity and the accompanying stressors and diseases, it was a refreshing idea that a young black man would be the purveyor of not just healthy eating but vegan cuisine at that, a leap that some health-conscious folks might find it difficult to make, given the restrictions on eggs and dairy in addition to meats.
More Auntie Fee than Chef G. Garvin, the blog would likely discourage trading recipes word for word with your mom. Still, I was inspired. To me, Thug Kitchen could have helped whip up a healthy eating movement akin to those of the natural-hair purists or, say, Black Girls Run— which are all uplifting healthwise for black folks and enforce a positive message for us. Would Chef G. Garvin or Chef Roblé feature the up-and-comer? Might he be cooking with the Neelys one day?
With more than 51,000 followers on Twitter, a couple of endorsements from Gwyneth Paltrow and a new cookbook released to much fanfare, the mystery blogger behind the well-trafficked site was poised and ready to emerge from the shadows and join fellow next-level black entrepreneurs.
An Epicurious profile revealed one astonishing caveat, however: The Thug Kitchen creator isn’t exactly a black entrepreneur—or black at all.
In the spirit of Thug Kitchen language, what the f–k?
The blog is actually the brainchild of a white man and white woman who started it in August 2012 on Tumblr.
“Months later, after a bit of detective work and a fair amount of sweet-talking, I found myself driving through East Hollywood on the way to sample some dairy-free ice cream from Scoops, blasting Gucci [Mane’s] ‘Lemonade’ with the windows down. I was rolling with Michelle Davis and Matt Holloway, both 29, aka the pair behind Thug Kitchen,” reads Matt Duckor’s profile of the duo, which revealed the pair’s identity for the first time.
It would be the same if one discovered that Suri’s Burn Book was actually ghostwritten by Suge Knight. Or if the Rev. Jesse Jackson was secretly the one behind those abhorrent People magazine tweets from last week.
Is it really any coincidence that the Thug Kitchen bloggers waited this long to reveal their true identity? They had to know that it would be incongruous and wouldn’t fly if they told readers from the beginning that they were white.
Their recently released commercial is full of white people, young and old, touting the benefits of eating healthy thanks to the cookbook. One woman says that she is no longer lazy about the food she gives her family: “Now that I have the Thug Kitchen cookbook, I don’t play that s–t anymore.”
It’s deceptive and feels a lot like the latest iteration of nouveau blackface. It stirs up the same anomalous feelings one has when one sees a tweet from an Iggy Azalea fan account dubbing her and Macklemore the queen and king of rap.