Sophia Roe is anything but your average chef. The 33-year-old James Beard Award winner and Emmy-nominee is shifting the way we view the culinary industry and cultural foodways; one Instagram post, honest conversation, and Counter Space episode at a time. As the latest season of her series streams on Tastemade—Roe wants people to understand that food origins need to be discussed, even if it makes us uncomfortable.

"I know we want so deeply to have these happy, kind origin stories to our food, because, food makes us feel good. But, a lot of the stories just aren't. It's important to just be honest and talk about where things actually came from," says Roe. "The origin of fried chicken, for instance, you think it's a joke to say Black people like it. But when enslaved folks were first brought here to America, the gaming hen was the only animal they were allowed to own—so the joke is not funny."

Some would say that as Black Americans, we should continue to preserve the traditions our ancestors fought to build as it relates to food. And while that is true, according to the Counter Space host, we should also seek to build upon those longstanding food norms.

Chef Sophia Roe. Image: courtesy of Tastemade.

"What is authenticity? In a world that is becoming more mixed and more globalized, we have to ask, 'what is my food?' If I'm Black and I live in Copenhagen, what is my food? That's when we start talking about regionality. That's when we start talking about anecdotal evidence of a person being human. Then it becomes less about this is my food because this is where I'm from, and more of this is my food because this is where I was raised," says Roe.

For Sophia Roe, her conversations and content are designed to encourage imagination. It stems well beyond just making one of her tasty recipes or talking about the adverse effects of climate change, food shortages and famine. The world is also facing an incredible loss of ecological diversity. And, the only way to fix it is with revolutionary action.

EBONY asked the Counter Space host to share one of her favorite recipes, and she says it's her Ube bread. Below, you'll find the step-by-step recipe to create it at home.

Servings: 1 large loaf or 8 small buns

Difficulty Level: Easy–medium

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup mashed ube
  • 2¼ tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 3 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 cup water, divided into a ¼ cup and ¾ cup

  1. Fill a small cup or container with ¼ cup of lukewarm water (approximately 110F). Dissolve one tablespoon of sugar in water. Sprinkle the yeast on top and set aside.  Mixture should start looking creamy and cloudy as yeast dissolves.  Should be a little foamy after five minutes. 
  2. Put flour into a large mixing bowl and make a well in the center. Pour activated yeast into well and follow up with the ube. Add the salt. Combine all the ingredients while pouring in the remaining ¾ cup of water. 
  3. Knead in the bowl or lightly flour your counter and finish kneading on the countertop.  It should be soft, smooth, supple, and light purple in color when ready. 
  4. Roll into a ball and place into an oiled bowl, cover, and let it proof in a warm place for one to one and a half hours or until it doubles in size.
  5. Punch down the dough and knead gently to bring it back into a ball shape. 
  6. Pat down the ball shape to flatten the dough. Stretch the left and right side out, and stretch the top upwards.  Fold the left and right side over to the center,  roll the top of the dough towards you, tucking the dough into itself bit by bit to build tension, until you have the shape of a loaf. 
  7. Cover loaf pan and let dough rise again until almost doubled. Should take 25 to 30 minutes.
  8. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  9. Once the loaf doubles in size, transfer it to the oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes; internal temperature should be 190°F. The bread will sound hollow when tapped lightly. 
  10. Remove from the oven and let it cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool for about an hour before slicing.

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Active dry yeast
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