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15 Dec 2016

Munchies: Merry Food-Mas

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December 15, 2016 Category: Food And Beverage Posted by:

ABOVE PHOTO:  C. Surratt Design Aprons   (Photo courtesy of Chanell Surratt)

Looking for a gift for that foodie in your life? Here’s a few suggestions…

By Denise Clay

The gift giving season is here.

Christmas is fast approaching, and if you’re like me, and you hang around people who truly appreciate good food and drink, you want to find a gift that reflects that.

But how? A gift certificate, maybe? Sure, that could work, but it’s also kind of impersonal, don’t you think?

So I decided to look for some gifts for the foodies in my life that take into consideration their love of food. Because I’m also in #BuyBlack mode, I focused on African American food-related businesses that not only provide some tasty stuff, but allow you to look good while you make your own.

Let’s start with one that we’ve featured in a past Munchies column, Jams by Kim.


Photo courtesy of Jams by Kim

I featured Jams by Kim in May as part of the SUN’s coverage of the Philly Farm and Food Festival. The company’s president and CEO Kim Osterhoudt began sharing the jams she made from a family recipe with the rest of America after being laid off from her job as a Corporate Human Relations Manager for Prudential Financial in 2009.

Since then, the New Jersey-based company has produced a line of sweet and savory jams that include such flavors as Pinot Grigio, Roasted Garlic and Sweet Onion, and Blueberry and Lemon, which is my personal favorite. The jams are terrific on artisan bread, cheese as part of a brie en croute, and can even be used to make cocktails.

In addition to her conventional offerings, Jams by Kim has jams that the vegan in your life will appreciate.

Right now, Jams by Kim has a Holiday special that includes two jars of her trademark jams in a basket with a handwritten note for $30. To take a look at her selections and find the jam of your dreams, go to

A couple of weeks ago, I went to the Black Professionals Christmas Party at the African American Museum in Philadelphia. Earl Harvey, publisher of “The Black Professionals News” and “host with the most,” always features some of the best munchies from local African American caterers and food artisans.

Photo courtesy of Aunt Verlea's Pound Cake Experience

Photo courtesy of Aunt Verlea’s Pound Cake Experience

One of this year’s artisans was Aunt Verlea’s Pound Cake Experience. Verlea started making her pound cakes 11 years ago after being unable to find work.

“After some divine intervention, I got started,” she said. “I made up my mind and decided that this was what I was going to do. I’m celebrating two years in business.”

The original Aunt Verlea’s pound cake was her aunt’s recipe, she said, and she adds flavors such as sweet potato, chocolate, and strawberry. She also makes cupcakes, a carrot cake, peach and apple cobblers and even cheesecakes. She also makes something called a “cake pudding,” which is a sweet form of recycling, she said.

“This recipe came from my not wanting to keep wasting cake,” Verlea said. “I used to cut slices of cake and we’d have these little ends that would be left over and we’d have to throw them out otherwise. This way, people still get to taste them.”

Aunt Verlea had samples of her cupcakes, pound cakes and cakes in a jar available for folks at the Christmas Party to taste as they grabbed libations and took to the dance floor to rock the night away.


The cake was moist and the chocolate frosting was sweet without being too sweet. It was a tasty morsel that left you wanting more.

To get the Aunt Verlea’s Pound Cake Experience requires three-days notice because the holidays are her busy season and she’s going to make the cake of your dreams to order.

Pound cake prices range from $18 (small) to $35 (large) and prices for “old favorites” like carrot cake range from $40 to $45. Peach and apple cobblers range from $45 (half) to $90 (whole).

Cakes in a Jar are $5 apiece and come in groups of six. You can also get cupcakes for $3 apiece with a minimum of six. For Christmas, you can get a basket of cakes in a jar for $30.

If you want to share some sweets with your foodie sweet, call or text Aunt Verlea’s Pound Cake Experience at 267-804-0013 or send an email to [email protected]. You can also find them at the CLC Bookstore in Cedar Brook Mall and Jamaican D’s at Wister and Chelten Avenue.

The last of the food gifts I’ll be sharing with you comes from our friends at the LaRue Group. Founder Kirk Wardy sent me some information about one of the newer members of his collective of chefs of color and food creators, a woman named Chanell Surratt.

Now Surratt makes something that will help you look at good in the kitchen as the food you make.

That something? A really nice apron.

Surratt, a professional stylist, got the idea of making the kind of apron that you wouldn’t mind being seen in from a magazine she was reading that featured a picture of a woman getting ready for a dinner party.

The apron she was wearing was distractingly bad, she said.

“Her table settings were really beautiful, but I kept going to the apron,” Surratt said. “It took away from the entire picture. It looked sad. So I said, I can make an apron that looks a lot better than that.

She began sketching some ideas. While there’s only so much you can do with an apron, she had her Mom, who entertained a lot, as an inspiration, Surratt said.

“I’ve always been into fashion and clothes,” she said. “So I started going to material stores to look for apron fabric. I look for colorful and bold fabrics that are durable. It’s got to be nice and catch the eye. It’s also got to easy to clean, because aprons will get stained.”

Most of the aprons are a cotton blend, but delicate silk blends are also available. They range in price from $15 to $65 and are so fashion forward, you can match them with whatever outfit you plan on serving dinner in, Surratt said.

“Sure, it’s an apron,” she said. “but it’s also fashion.”

Surratt is currently working on a men’s line of aprons, as well as chef coats. Each apron comes in an embossed gift box and ships for free. You can order the aprons at

Here’s hoping you allow one of these Black owned businesses to help you find the gift of your favorite foodie’s dreams.

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