Known for her inventive take on modern soul food, as well as comfort classics, Tanya Holland is the executive chef/owner of the famous and beloved Brown Sugar Kitchen restaurants, located in the San Francisco Bay Area. The author of The Brown Sugar Kitchen Cookbook and New Soul Cooking, she competed on the fifteenth season of Top Chef on Bravo, and was the host and soul food expert on Food Network’s Melting Pot. A frequent contributor to the James Beard Foundation as a writer and chef, her Oakland, CA based Brown Sugar Kitchen has received multiple Michelin Bib Gourmand awards. An in-demand public speaker and lecturer, Holland frequently leads the conversation on inclusion and equity in the hospitality industry.
Holland has appeared as a special guest on countless national television shows including the Today Show, The Talk, CBS This Morning, Hallmark Channel’s Home & Family, VH1′s Soul Cities, Sara Moulton’s Cooking Live, Ready, Set, Cook!, and The Wayne Brady Show. Additionally, she’s appeared on many Bay Area shows including Check, Please! Bay Area, View from the Bay, and Eye on the Bay. Holland was a featured judge on TV One’s My Momma Throws Down, as well as PBS’ The Great American Chef’s Tour.
Holland has contributed articles to various magazines including Sunset, Food & Wine, Signature Bride, and Wine Enthusiast, and has been featured in articles in many publications, including The New York Times, Savoy, The LA Times, Cherry Bombe, Stanford Review, Gourmet, O, The Oprah Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, Savoy, Gastronomica, Civil Eats, Travel & Leisure, and Sunset. Her work also has appeared in the Huffington Post. In addition to her own cookbooks, she has contributed to several chef compilations including The Cherry Bombe Cookbook, Hoos in the Kitchen, Feed Your People, and America, and The Great Cookbook.
Holland has served as the president of the prestigious Les Dames d’Escoffier San Francisco chapter, and was honored by the City of Oakland when June 5, 2012, was declared “Tanya Holland Day.” Holland was rewarded for her “Significant role in creating community and establishing Oakland as a culinary center.” A year later, Mayor Jean Quan awarded her the Key to The City.
As a chef, Holland travels extensively in pursuit of more experience and knowledge. In France, she trained with Michel Sarran at Le Mas Du Langoustier on the Island of Porquerolles, and with Jean-Michel Bouvier at Restaurant L’Essential in Chambery. She spent two summers cooking on Martha’s Vineyard at The Oyster Bar and L’Etoile, which was interrupted by a winter at Hamersley’s Bistro in Boston. She received rave reviews as the Executive Chef of The Delux Café in Boston, and The Victory Kitchen in Brooklyn. Intrigued by the burgeoning West Coast food movement, Holland decided to move to warmer weather where she returned to the front of the house and garnered stellar reviews in her starring role as Creative Director at Le Théâtre in Berkeley, CA. This led to the opening of her now famed soul food eatery, Brown Sugar Kitchen.
Having been appointed as a Culinary Diplomat by the United States’ Foreign Service Department for tours in Kazakhstan and Mexico, Holland also has taught classes in France for gastronomic travelers. In March 2019, she will host a group in Tanzania.
Holland holds a Bachelor of Arts in Russian Language and Literature from the University of Virginia, as well as a Grande Diplôme from La Varenne Ecole de Cuisine in Burgundy, France. She began her restaurant career in New York City as an assistant manager at Cornelia Street Café, Café Rakel, and Nosmo King Restaurants. Later, she expanded her knowledge of the restaurant business by working as a Catering Office Manager, as well as a wine importer’s Tasting Assistant, and a server at Mesa Grill. Her passion for cuisine led her to take on more responsibility as a Food Styling Assistant to Roscoe Betsill of Metropolitan Home, Vegetarian Times, and Food & Wine magazines. After returning from cooking school and deciding to turn her attention to the kitchen full time, Holland returned to Mesa Grill in 1994, where she worked under celebrity chef Bobby Flay.
Top Chef Season 15 (Bravo, 2017-2018)
Home & Family (Hallmark, 2015-2017)
CBS This Morning (2016)
The Talk (CBS, 2013-2015)
Today Show (NBC, 2010-2014)
The Chew (CBS, 2013)
My Momma Throws Down (TV ONE, March 2012)
Eye on the Bay & Check Please! Bay Area (PBS, 2008-2010)
Soul Cities (VH1, 2009)
G. Garvin’s Road Tour (TV ONE, 2008)
Byron Allen’s Every Woman (2005)
The Wayne Brady Show (ABC, 2004)
The Jane Pauley Show (NBC, 2004)
Sara Moulton’s Cooking Live (Food Network, 2001)
Emeril’s Holiday Special & Ready Set Cook (Food Network, 2001)
Melting Pot Soul Kitchen (Food Network, 2000-2003)
Today Show (NBC, 2000)