Sabour will be surrounded by his family this Christmas. In addition to her husband, Michael Burton, and daughters Layla Burton and Caden Burton, their home will be the celebratory destination for out-of-town relatives. “Half of my family is in D.C. They travel to be with us,” he said.
Hopefully, they will bring elastic pants because Sabour has a large extension planned. And it’s about the “staple foods for the soul.”
He marked items on his Christmas menu: a sweet potato soufflé, a fish preparation, macaroni and cheese, kale, corn pudding, a mixture of roasted vegetables and his characteristic cornbread with honey, among other dishes. “All sides, everyone wants the sides,” he said.
She plans to give these dishes the same loving care she has done for the past 10 years as a caterer to Atlanta’s film and television industries, and which she did this fall on the set of “The Great Soul Food Cook-Off” when she prepared food judged by host and Food Network star Kardea Brown, “Top Chef” alum Eric Adjepong and celebrated Harlem restaurateur Melba Wilson.
“I came to show soul food in beautiful ways. I didn’t imagine it as a game; I envisioned it as a platform for soul food to be beautifully presented and respected and put on a pedestal,” said Sabour, also a former contestant on Food Network’s “Cutthroat Kitchen.” “Soul food is a kitchen, but it is more than that. It’s part of me.”
She considers spice blends to be “the heart” of soul food and the reason why soul food can accommodate vegan and carnivorous diets.
“It’s not about the ingredients, it’s about the spice mix and how to make it shine,” Sabour said. “If you’re eating soul food, you know when it’s right and when it’s wrong. It’s all about the taste of spices. That’s the cultural significance. How Italian food is Italian or Asian food is Asian, it’s the spice mix or the sauces you make.”
She divulged that allspice is the secret to her sweet potato-winning preparations, from a dessert cake to the soufflé recipe she shares with AJC readers.
Sabour is still digesting his win in this series produced by Good Egg Entertainment, the company behind Food Network’s “Chopped,” and overseen by Oprah Winfrey Network.
“In the end, I was relieved. There’s so much anxiety built up around it while you’re in it. So much tension. When they said my name, I got stuck. Frozen.”
Sabour’s win comes with a $50,000 cash prize. She hopes to use it as seed money to fulfill a long-standing dream of opening a fresh market where she can sell prepared foods and family meals packaged with her signature soul food dishes. In addition, it wants to stock products from other artisanal food manufacturers.
“I want to call it Sabour Market or something,” he said. The location and a timeline to realize the vision must be determined. “A brick and mortar is something over my head, but I’m going to have to take action to figure it out,” said the entrepreneur who found herself in a similar position a decade ago when she unexpectedly jumped into the catering world when she was simply trying to launch a food truck.
As Sabour reflected on the next chapter of her culinary career, she repeated the mantra that calmed her through frantic cooking challenges in “The Great Soul Food Cook-Off”: “Go with the flow.”
That’s good advice for any cook, anytime, especially during the holidays.
These recipes for macaroni and cheese, sweet potato soufflé and honey cornbread are signature dishes for chef and supplier Razia Sabour, winner of “The Great Soul Food Cook-Off,” who usually prepares for holiday meals. Baked macaroni
and cheese Chef
Sabour has kept this recipe a secret, until now. What prompted you to share it? “It’s an American staple. Not just a staple food for the soul,” he said. His advice for the success of the best chefs with this dish: grate the freshly grated cheeses instead of buying the previously crushed ones. “It doesn’t melt the same,” he said of packaged things.
Christmas meals this time of year, sweet potatoes are “a big deal,” Sabour said. Whether it’s making sweet potato pie or this soufflé, she searches for allspice. “That’s the secret in my sweet potato,” he said. To save time, roast the sweet potatoes a day in advance. If you don’t have fresh oranges, use store-bought orange juice and skip the zest.
My cornbread is moist and sweet,” Sabour said. “I’m from the north in D.C. We put sugar in our grits. It wasn’t until I was here that I ate grits with salt, pepper and butter.” Sabour’s Honey Cornbread is one that adorns the family Christmas table every year.
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