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Because it’s strange and beautiful and hot, people from everywhere converge on Florida and they bring their cuisine and their traditions with them. The Zest celebrates the intersection of food and communities in the Sunshine State.

Soul food scholar Adrian Miller will headline the Tampa Bay Collard Green Festival

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This week, we’re digging into the roots of soul food with Adrian Miller, better known as the Soul Food Scholar. After a career at the White House, the trained attorney set his sights on researching African-American culinary traditions.

Miller is the author of several books on the subject, including Black Smoke: African Americans and the United States of Barbecue and The President’s Kitchen Cabinet: The Story of the African Americans Who Have Fed Our First Families, from the Washingtons to the Obamas. His first book, Soul Food: The Surprising Story of an American Cuisine, One Plate at a Time, won the 2014 James Beard Foundation Book Award for Reference and Scholarship. He also appears in the acclaimed Netflix docuseries High on the Hog: How African American Cuisine Transformed America.

Miller is based in Denver, Colorado, but he’s coming to Florida in February to headline the Tampa Bay Collard Green Festival. The event takes place, fittingly, on Presidents Day weekend. On Friday, Feb. 16, Dalia will host Collards After Dark, where Adrian will give a talk about U.S. presidents’ favorite beverage and cocktails. Then on Saturday, Feb. 17, Miller will give a presentation about Black chefs in the White House.

Gearing up for his appearance in Tampa, Miller chatted with Dalia about his journey from attorney to food writer, Black chefs in the White House and what mainstream media gets wrong about soul food.

"I host a food podcast" is a great icebreaker at parties.