Chef Tanya Holland of Brown Sugar Kitchen - Biography

San Francisco, CA

October 2018

Tanya Holland grew up in Rochester, New York, but credits her passion for Southern food to her parents. Her father is from rural Virginia and her mother is from Louisiana. She studied Russian at the University of Virginia and started her restaurant career in New York City as an assistant manager at Cornelia Street Café, Café Rakel, and Nosmo King restaurants, respectively. Her love of cooking led her to École de Cuisine La Varenne in Burgundy, France, where she received a Grand Diploma.Upon her return to the states in 1994, Holland worked as a line cook for Bobby Flay at Mesa Grill. She spent the next decade cooking at restaurants in the Northeast including The Oyster Bar and L’Etoile in Martha’s Vineyard, Hamersley’s Bistro and The Delux Café in Boston, and The Victory Kitchen in Brooklyn.In 2003, Holland decided to move to warmer climes and returned to the front of the house as creative director at Le Théâtre in Berkeley, California. This led to the opening of her soul food eatery Brown Sugar Kitchen in Oakland in 2008. In 2010, Holland was inducted into the prestigious Les Dames d’Escoffier. She has authored cookbooks Brown Sugar Kitchen and New Soul Cooking. Holland is also known for her role as a host and expert on soul food for the “Melting Pot” series on Food Network, and her appearance on season 15 of Bravo’s “Top Chef.”