By Keith Corbin, Kevin Alexander
2022 • Random House
After release, Corbin was hired as a kitchen manager at Locol, an ambitious, heavily hyped restaurant by celebrity chefs Roy Choi and Daniel Patterson meant to bring inexpensive, chef-quality meals and jobs into underserved neighborhoods. Suddenly thrust into the spotlight, Corbin struggled to live up to or accept the simplified “gangbanger redemption” portrayal of him in the media. Battling drug addiction and a seemingly unstoppable barrage of violent tragedies, Corbin rose to become chef of Alta West Adams, seeing his vision of “California Soul Food” (a healthier, creative spin on soul food using local California produce and West African cooking techniques) become a reality as Alta gained national media recognition as one of the nation’s best new restaurants.
With nuance and startling clarity, California Soul takes us through the worlds of gang hierarchies, drug dealing, prison politics, gentrification, and culinary prowess. Corbin tells the story of what it’s like to grow up Black in America under some of the worst circumstances; to see unspeakable tragedy and commit acts of violence, to get locked up, and re-locked up, to attempt to go straight and find the system unforgiving, to find a culinary passion and go for it, to succeed and fail, and be forced to fight for your place at the table.
Tags: #amplifymelanatedvoices, 2023 James Beard Nominee, american regional, Books, california, food writing, James Beard Nominee, memoir, North American, was-preorder, west coast