Kardea Brown did not dream of becoming a television star.
Born and raised in the Sea Islands, Brown grew up shadowing her grandmother in her Wadmalaw kitchen, helping her cook traditional Gullah recipes and Southern comfort food. Brown would go on to get a degree in psychology and a job in social services, but food was never far from her mind. In 2015 she was discovered by the Food Network when she was auditioning for a healthy cooking show. The producers said she was a natural in front of the camera.
"I would describe my personality as kind of goofy," laughs Brown. You can see her personality best on her Instagram, where she shares daily stories and posts about food, family, and behind the scenes clips from her Food Network show, Delicious Miss Brown.
On Aug. 23 Brown captions a picture of two delectable chicken sandwiches, "
I decided to throw my hat in the ring ... Juicy deep fried chicken thighs topped with shredded red cabbage and lettuces, made from scratch vidalia onion jam, buttermilk ranch aaaaaand to seal the deal a heaping smear of my famous spicy Gouda pimento cheese on a toasted brioche bun! #Popeyes & #Chickfila have your people contact my people."
Since 2015, the self-taught chef, who divides her time between Atlanta and Charleston, has appeared on Beat Bobby Flay
, Chopped Junior
, Cooks Vs. Cons
, Family Food Showdown
, and Farmhouse Rules.
she hosted new Food Network show, Cupcake Championship
, and launched her own series a few weeks later.
The Delicious Miss Brown
finale airs this Sun. Sept. 1 at 11:30 a.m. Titled "Family Reunion," the sixth and final episode of the first season features "all the family favorites" from "No-Fuss Baby Back Ribs with Carolina Moppin' Sauce" to "classic Charleston Chewies."
"The show is doing well and we’re looking forward to many more seasons," says Brown, who also hints that her first cookbook could be making an appearance as soon as next year.
Brown says that being able to delve into native Charleston cuisine — to get in front of people and beyond the Top 10 lists — is incredibly important to her.
"I'll go to the West Coast and say I have a Gullah background and they'll say 'what's that?'" Outside of our Lowcountry bubble, people across the nation are flocking to the 'foodie city' without knowing the roots of our heralded cuisine.
"Food Network gave me this platform," says Brown. "You hear a lot about Charleston but you never see the deeper insight of the cuisine ... to have the opportunity to showcase the Gullah influence, it's an amazing feeling."
With Brown's fun and approachable teaching methods (snippy cooking show and even snippier social media presence), we think the West Coast may soon become well versed in crab rice and chewies.
"I enjoy cooking most with my loved ones and feeding other people," says Brown. "I block out the cameras — my favorite time to cook is with family and friends."
The chef says she may have forgotten about the cameras a little too much sometimes — "For the shrimp scene I literally fall onto the boat that was my first time ever going shrimping and I was petrified." In fact, Brown didn't seem to have much luck at all with critters on air; "Oh and I remember I got attacked by a live crab ... and I got attacked by a duck at the park! It's been quite a few funny things."
When she isn't fending off wild ducks, Brown is focused on her small screen career, sharing recipes with her followers (in addition to Lowcountry eats she likes to whip up everything from Asian-inspired cuisine to bright, healthy salads), and continuing her Gullah Supper Club series.
The supper club launched in August 2015, with Brown traveling monthly to different states. She's taken a break from curating the series while working on her shows, but she says the club will get back up and running this fall in Charleston. A description of the Supper Club on Brown's website reads, "The New Gullah Supper Club aims to unite people from different walks of life with one common interest, to enjoy good food with great people. Chef Kardea Brown will prepare her spin on Gullah inspired Southern dishes with a contemporary twist."
If she isn't in her own kitchen whipping up fried shrimp baskets and her "famous" potato salad, Brown does have a few favorite restaurants in town.
On her Instagram she's given shoutouts to Lewis Barbecue, Bear E Patch, Amen, Coast, Dellz, Halls, Fleet Landing, and Magnolias. And if she can't have her own fried chicken sandwich? No fast food for Brown — it's "Boxcar Betty's hands down!"