Spotlight Feature: Klancy Miller

Spotlight Feature: Klancy Miller

I’m so excited for this feature of my new friend, Klancy Miller. We met a couple months ago on a trip to France where we learned all about Maille mustard in Dijon, and had the incredible opportunity to cook together at the Cooks Atelier. We obviously bonded over our love for food, travel and that we both graduated from Le Cordon Bleu, except that she went in France and I studied in London. We had an instant connection. I absolutely loved our time together and hearing all about her life journey, career and new book that I can’t wait to get my hands on.

Klancy Miller is the author of the upcoming book For the Culture: Phenomenal Black Women and Femmes in Food, coming out September 19. Get your pre-orders in HERE. She also wrote Cooking Solo: The Fun of Cooking For Yourself and is the founder of For the Culture: A Magazine Celebrating Black Women and Femmes in Food and Wine. After graduating from Columbia University, and working in international development in French Polynesia, she earned a diplôme de pâtisserie from Le Cordon Bleu Paris and apprenticed in the pastry kitchen at the Michelin-starred restaurant Taillevent. She later joined Le Cordon Bleu’s recipe development team, during which time she was featured on the Food Network. Now based in New York, she continues to write about food and has contributed to The New York Times, Vogue, The Washington Post, Food and Wine, Cherry Bombe, Bon Appétit, and Food 52. She has also guest-hosted Radio Cherry Bombe, appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The Cut, The New York Times Food section, as well as on the Today Show, Food Network’s Recipe for Success and the Cooking Channel’s Unique Sweets. She was honored as a 2022 IACP Trailblazer Awards Winner. 

I am always so fascinated by how other people get to where they are. What motivates them, what pushes them, what inspires them. Clearly, an incredibly accomplished person, Klancy’s story is so inspiring, and I am so honored that I get to share it here. 

my food journey

I have always loved food and specifically sweets. As a kid I loved Mississippi Mud Pie. My first food related job as a teenager was as a dishwasher at a gourmet shop in my neighborhood in Philly. The bonus was that my boss made the best breakfast sandwiches. In college, my first work-study job was manning the stir-fry station in one of the cafeterias on campus. I loved that job even though it was only for a semester or two—it kind of sparked my interest in cooking. After college, I had no clue what I wanted to do so even though I had a job in international development, I started taking cooking lessons (and acting lessons and documentary making lessons) on the weekends and I thoroughly enjoyed making food. I applied for a restaurant job and was rejected but the chef let me work as a prep cook/apprentice on the weekends. That experience sparked my interest in going to culinary school and since my chef said I didn’t need to go to cooking school to be a chef, but it could be a good idea if I wanted to be a pastry chef—I decided I would study pastry making! In Paris! At Le Cordon Bleu. The bonus was that I speak French and have been a Francophile since I was a teenager and wanted to return to Paris to study (I had studied in France for a semester in college).

life at le cordon bleu

I had a fairytale experience as a student at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. Even now looking back it seems almost hard to fathom how beautiful a time it was. Every day I woke up, went to “les demonstrations”, which are the lectures or demonstrations where one of the chef instructors demonstrates how to make something such as a Forêt Noire cake or a croissant or some other kind of confection. And then afterwards we would go to our “Pratique”, which was the practical class where we made the same thing that the chef made in the demonstration. And then I would go home with the 30 eclairs I made! My homework was to wander around Paris looking at pastry shop windows and eating pastry or going to restaurants and paying attention to the menu and presentation. If you are a person who loves food and Paris, this is a fairytale. 

I wasn’t too intimidated because it was all too much fun. That said there were some intimidating moments—specifically when we were tested on things at the end of the term and we had to make things without a recipe, also when we started making sugar sculptures. It’s very hard to make sugar sculptures by hand. The sugar is extremely hot, and you have to work quickly, and the goal is to make something beautiful so that was hard and intimidating. I can say the same about chocolate and making chocolate sculptures. Very difficult and intimidating. Making croissants was kind of intimidating too but less so than making sculptures. Everything else we made was fun.

Paris living

Paris has so many things going for it. I loved the architecture. I loved that there was a café around the corner from my apartment and at least one café per block, sometimes three. I loved having an aperitif at the end of the day either with friends, a boyfriend, or by myself. I loved the people watching. And I love that it’s such an international city with people from all over the world. I loved being able to speak French all the time and sometimes being mistaken for being French. I loved taking really long walks throughout the city and getting to know different neighborhoods. I of course loved going out to eat—but I also loved learning that dinner parties are very common in Paris. People invite friends (and sometimes strangers) over for dinner or for brunch all the time. I really loved that even though I lived in a small studio I felt comfortable throwing a party and people would come and we’d have a good time. I found a group of friends in France who are as enthusiastic about great food as I am and together, we threw a lot of dinner parties and brunches. I love the marchés (farmer’s markets) and the fancy grocery store La Grande Épicerie and the frozen food chain, Picard. I also love that people go out and stay out late—the subway closes just after midnight so parties last until 5 am. As a night owl I loved having super late nights.  Paris was also a fun place to be for fashion and fashion weeks. Thanks to a friend, I had a cute day job once of helping to dress male models for a show and that was incredibly fun. I also really appreciated that there is a great quality of life. French people believe in embracing leisure and pleasure. People work hard but there is an emphasis on enjoying life—all of life not just focusing on work. I was lucky—one of the restaurants where I worked in Paris was closed on the weekends so I was free to enjoy Saturday and Sunday. I could go on and on about the big and small pleasures of living in Paris. It’s a very charming city.

from Brooklyn to Paris 

Farmer’s markets are the biggest inspirations for me. To this day, wandering the stalls of a farmer’s market—whether here in New York or in Paris—will always give me ideas of something to make. Maybe the person selling me the produce gives me an idea or maybe something sparks my imagination but seeing the abundance of fruit and vegetables and other food always gets me going. In Paris I especially love fraises des bois—the tiny “strawberries of the woods” that are so sweet and perfect. We used to make a beautiful kind of millefeuille with fraises des bois at Taillevent and I loved it.

for the culture: phenomenal black women and femmes in food

My upcoming book, For the Culture: Phenomenal Black Women and Femmes in Food, will be out September 19th! (Please pre-order it here.) It’s a love letter to Black women and femmes in food and wine and an anthology of wisdom that I wish I could have had when I was starting my culinary journey as a 21-year-old. It features 66 interviews (with Dr. Jessica B. Harris, Sophia Roe, Kia Damon, Ayesha Curry, Carla Hall, Yewande Komolafe, and many more) and includes 48 recipes by the interviewees and five personal essays by me about our culinary matriarchs, Edna Lewis, Leah Chase, B. Smith, Lena Richard, and Vertamae Smart Grosvenor. 

I was inspired to write the book because when I was just starting out in food, I didn’t see many people who look like me and now that I’ve put in time in the hospitality and food media industry I’ve met so many people doing cool things with food and wine—and many of them are Black women and femmes. I believe that sometimes you have to see someone who looks like you—someone doing amazing work in order to know that this is an option for you too. I love the idea of expanding the number of role models we can have, and I hope that this book will inspire a lot of people.

My favorite part of writing this book was conducting the interviews because it meant I got to have rich conversations with so many people I admire.

Shrimp Cassava Balls by Anya Peters

Throughout the Caribbean, rum shops are everywhere, and many serve finger foods known as cutters or cuttas. This rum shop cuttas is inspired by the classic Guyanese egg ball with seasoned cassava and Creole stew shrimp. The cassava ball mixture can be prepared two days in advance and refrigerated. Let it come to room temperature for 30 minutes before coating and frying.

Makes 4

  • Salt

  • 2 large cassavas (yuca root), or frozen yuca

  • 2 tomatoes, diced, divided

  • 8 garlic cloves, minced, divided

  • 8 sprigs thyme, stripped, divided

  • 2 scallions, trimmed and sliced, divided

  • Neutral oil for frying (such as canola or grapeseed)

  • 1/2 scotch bonnet pepper, seeded and minced

  • 1 cup white wine

  • 1 pound shrimp, cleaned and cut into pieces

  • 1 tablespoon butter

  • Juice of 1 lime

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/4 cup cassava flour

  • Pickled red onions and your favorite hot sauce for serving


  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add 1 tablespoon salt. Peel and cut yuca into 3-inch pieces if using fresh, and add to the boiling water. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until the cassava is easy to pierce with a knife. Drain and set aside to cool slightly.

  2. Cut each cassava piece in half and discard the tough, starchy vein in the middle. Return it to the pot and add half of the tomato, garlic, thyme, and scallion, along with 2 tablespoons water. Cover and cook on medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the cassava is completely tender, about 10 minutes. Set aside.

  3. Heat a little oil in a saucepan on medium heat and sauté the remaining tomato, garlic, thyme, and scallion, and the scotch bonnet pepper a few minutes, until fragrant. Add the wine and let the mixture reduce by half. Add the shrimp and sauté for 3 to 5 minutes, until cooked and pink. Add the butter to the pan and take it off the heat, sprinkle with fresh lime juice.

  4. Coarsely mash the cooked cassava mixture. Stir in the cooked shrimp and sauce. Taste for salt and pepper, adjust the seasoning to taste, and let cool for 10 minutes.

  5. In the meantime, heat 2 inches of oil in a Dutch oven or deep, heavy skillet over medium heat. Set up a breading station with cassava flour in a plate, oil for replenishing the pan, a sheet pan lined with parchment paper, and another one lined with paper towels.

  6. Oil your hands to prevent sticking. Using a tablespoon, scoop out the cassava shrimp mixture and it roll into balls. Coat the balls in cassava flour and place them on the parchment-lined pan.

  7. Working in batches, fry the cassava balls until golden brown on all sides, 2 to 3 minutes per side, and drain on paper towels. Serve warm with pickled red onions and hot sauce.

New Orleans Barbecue Shrimp by Zella Palmer

New Orleans Barbecue Shrimp are not actually barbecued or doused in barbecue sauce—they’re simply sautéed in a generous amount of butter and spices. Apparently, long ago a Chicago businessman raved about the “barbecue” shrimp he had eaten in New Orleans. But it was more likely that he was referring to shrimp at Pascal’s Manale, which was and is famous for its BBQ shrimp (though many restaurants in New Orleans prepare the same dish).

Makes 20 servings

  • 6 pounds jumbo shrimp (preferably Louisiana)

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter

  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary, chopped

  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar

  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika

  • 1 teaspoon Creole seasoning

  • 1 teaspoon crab boil

  • 2 lemons, cut into wedges

  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley

  • French bread, for serving

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F.

  2. Rinse any grit off the shrimp, leaving heads and tails on.

  3. In a large cast-iron skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the rosemary, brown sugar, paprika, Creole seasoning, and crab boil.

  4. Add the shrimp and cook it, basting constantly with the seasoned butter, just until it turns completely pink, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to the oven for 8 minutes.

  5. Remove the pan from the oven. Squeeze a little lemon over the cooked shrimp and garnish it with the parsley. Serve immediately with french bread and the remaining lemon wedges.

Follow Klancy here:

Instagram: @klancycooks