The Best Spots For Your Jamaican Food Fix: South Carolina

The Best Spots For Your Jamaican Food Fix: South Carolina

The Best Spots For Your Jamaican Food Fix:

South Carolina



Can Caribbean specialties be just as good out of their native habitats? Where can you find some proper Jerk chicken, ital, or Ackee, and Saltfish in South Carolina?  SAPi has compiled a list of the most beloved Jamaican eateries in the Palmetto State. 

Despite what one might think, the vibrant Jamaican culinary scene outside the Caribbean can be just as irie inside of South Carolina’s state lines. 

South Carolina has had a  vibrant Jamaican food scene for decades. For an example of the rooted Caribbean culture and heritage tradition in the state, where Jamaican cuisine shines bright up and down the coast, look no further than the Charleston Carifest hosted each summer.

If you are looking to satisfy your tastebuds between Caribbean festivals, the region has a lot to offer. Whether you are looking for the grab-and-go convenience of a food truck or a sit-down restaurant ambiance with vibrant beats, SAPi has you covered. 


The Best Jamaican Food in South Carolina


Clarendon Cuisine, Myrtle Beach


1. Best By The Beach | Clarendon Cuisine

    Where: Myrtle Beach, South Carolina


Myrtle Beach has a robust Jamaican community, so you can be sure that the dishes served have passed the authenticity inspection by local eaters. Reviews report that for all the great, diverse restaurants on the Grand Strand, it was almost impossible to find good Jamaican cooking until Clarendon Cuisine came along. Daily lunch specials include Brown Stew Chicken, Curry Chicken, and Jerked Chicken.


Reggae Island Grill, Myrtle Beach


2. Best Ackee and Saltfish | Reggae Island Grill 

    Where: Myrtle Beach, South Carolina


If you are looking for Jamaica’s National plate of choice, Ackee and Saltfish, there is only one place that serves it in Myrtle Beach: Reggae Island Grill. Ackee is the national fruit of Jamaica and is usually boiled with salted cod. If it powers Usain Bolt’s breakfast, it must be something magical. 

The Reggae Island Grill’s menu features other classics like Jerk Chicken, Curry Goat, and Oxtail as well. One reviewer reports: “We were looking for some good authentic Jamaican food while on vacation, and this place did not disappoint. The jerk chicken was smoked just right and literally fell off the bone. Like honestly, the food was so good I had to stop to get a plate on my way headed home.”  


TruJerkJamaica, Columbia


3. Best Jerk Food Truck | TruJerkJamaica

    Where: Columbia, South Carolina


One look at this popular food truck’s Jerk Chicken, surrounded by plantains and peas and rice, and you know TruJerkJamaica is not playing around. Not only do they specialize in all things jerk (chicken, pork, oxtail) they also come through with some authentic Jamaican Ting soda and Coco Bread. Close your eyes, and you’re on Seven Mile Beach. 


Jamaica Mi Irie, Greenville


4. Best In Greenville | Jamaica Mi Irie

    Where: Greenville, South Carolina


Jamaican Me Irie proclaims itself to be “the only 100% authentic Jamaican Restaurant in Greenville. With three locations around the city, it won’t be hard to lock in your Brown Stew Chicken Lunch, Jerk Shrimp, or Curry Chicken Roti. Outdoor seating in a vibrant setting and Caribbean beats make the whole experience a vibe. 




5. Best Off The Beaten Path | JAMROCK CARIBANA

    Where: Warrenville, South Carolina


Visitors here exclaim, “the Brown Stew Chicken is life!” While you won’t find JAMROCK CARIBANA in a major city hub, Red Pea Soup and their Annual Fish Fry certainly make the drive out to Warrenville worth the trip. One of the sure signs you’re eating at an authentic Jamaican joint is oxtail on the menu, and JAMROCK CARIBANA doesn’t disappoint with tender, juicy servings and generous side portions. 


Whether you’re a die-hard Brown Stew Chicken fan or you’re looking to mix up your foodie routine, check out one of these great options in South Carolina. Not only are they all run by authentic chefs, but also local businesses run by real people.




The Best of Soda City:  South Carolina’s Brain, Body, and Belly Market

The Best of Soda City:  South Carolina’s Brain, Body, and Belly Market

The Best of Soda City: South Carolina’s Brain, Body, and Belly Market

Where 1300-1600 Block of Market Street in tree-lined downtown Columbia South Carolina. 

Open Rain or shine every Saturday

Hours 9:00AM- 1:00PM


Soda City Market

Soda City Market, Columbia South Carolina



The energy is electric! The Soda City Market was founded in 2005 growing from just 6 vendors to 150 rotating vendors from all walks of life. The market is self-funded and contributes 500 individual paychecks to the locally crafted vendors weekly. What started out at a couple of hundred marketgoers can boom to up to 7,000 people on an event weekend.  The market founder wanted the weekly event to be a microcosm of all things Columbia and regional. 

The market focuses on three main points; brain, body, and belly. Not hard for your brain to be stipulated by all the amazing music, art, and melting pot of cultures represented. The market can easily support body health with its wealth of wellness offerings including CBD products, handcrafted soaps, and plants. We need plants for general happiness, agreed? Finally, your belly will not be disappointed. The Soda City Market is a veritable artisan buffet of all things food including vegan and gluten-free options. 

Why should the Soda City Market be on your weekend to-do list? Let’s check it out. 



10 Reasons To Head To Soda City Market


A Producer Only Market



Soda City Market is a producer-only market — vendors must make or grow their own products (including out-of-season/exotic fruits and vegetables, antiques, and vintage items). Everything sold at our market is unique, hand-crafted, and produced in the Southeast. The market fields an average of 150 vendors per week and over 400 unique vendors throughout the year!

Although most vendors are local to South Carolina, they also have rotating small businesses coming in from North Carolina, Georgia, and Maine. 


Photo Credit: Soda City Market


International Food



More than just the local farm produce (which they also have) Soda City represents a variety of cuisines capable of taking you across the world as you stroll down Market Street. International cuisine includes Brazilian, Venezuela, Spain, Indian, Thai, and Filipino. Think paella, Brazilian grilled meats, and curries. You can also find Thai Cooking Kits by Simpli Thai, which feature Kao Soi, Green Curry, or Pad Thai ingredients. 


Photo Credit: Soda City Market


Local Food Creations



You can also find mouthwatering local favorites including shrimp and grits, locally cured beef jerky, and pecan apple butter.

One must-stop is Grown Wild Foods artisan-crafted nut mixes that feature flavors like Bourbon Bacon Pecans and Cinnamon Pecan Crunch with Fireball Whiskey. 


Photo Credit: Soda City Market


Something For Everyone



There are offerings for the kids at Soda City as well! Check out A Childhood Store for eco-friendly crayons and art kits. They also host activities like a “Color Your Own” market tote or apron and have activity kits to build your own spaceship or castle. 

After you’ve picked up some loot for the kids, head down to Chill Out Pops for a Blue Lemonade or Mexican Hot Chocolate popsicle.


Photo Credit: Soda City Market





The Market Street stretch can get warm towards the middle of the afternoon, but they’ve got you covered with hydration options. Try the seasonal kombucha offerings from the charming retro KombiKeg van or Dogs On The Run for some fresh squeezed lemonade. 


Photo Credit: Soda City Market


Pet Friendly



Not only are pets welcome, but there is also something for them at the market. It’s a great outdoor space to roam with your best friend and socialize. Not to be left out of the shopping, The Modern Companion makes bespoke pet bananas and ties so that they can make a scene as they stroll down Market Street. 


Photo Credit: Soda City Market


The Glow Up



You’ll find plenty of booths selling beaded jewelry, handcrafted earrings and accessories, and newly glowed-up sneakers. From streetwear to lounging, the Soda City Market has you covered. The clothing, jewelry, and accessory option range from newly crafted, to thrifted vintage and rotate between different vendors all year long. 


Soda City Market

Soda City Market, Columbia South Carolina


Rotating Live Music



What’s a market without a music vibe? Street performers light up Saturday at the Soda City Market with every genre of music. On any given Saturday you might hear an electric violinist, harpist, or even “Poetic The Masked Rapper. 


Photo Credit: Soda City Market


The Art Scene



From custom prints to sandblasted ceramics and handblown glass, this is the easiest gift buying you’ll ever do. The market has something for everybody and the best part is that your purchase supports the local arts community and real people. Phoenix Fire Studios has got you covered for the mug lover in your life, while Blue Dash Laser Designs has the chess player in your life covered with a custom laser-cut wooden chess board. 


Photo Credit: Soda City Market


Plants, Yes, You Definitely Need More Plants



From custom bouquets to starting the succulent garden you’ve always wanted, you’ll find it in these bustling Main Street blocks each Saturday. Local farms bring fresh floral bundles while local nurseries represent the best of both indoor and outdoor plants. Yes, you need another one! You’ve got permission from us to get all the plants from places like Floral Hardy Farm out of Lexington (bouquets) or Old Turtle Pond Farm (succulents). 

In addition, Thorne and Finch have you covered for beautiful woven macrame plant holders. 



Bonus: The Surrounding Local Businesses

One of the great things about the Soda City Market is its proximity to tons of other great brick-and-mortar shops that surround the neighborhood. If you need to take a break from the heat you can duck into one of the many restaurants, galleries, or clothing shops around the market. The Good Life Cafe and Odd Bird Books are two stops worth making off the main market drag. 


If you are interested in becoming a vendor at the market, Soda City has an online application here and can also be contacted at





Refugee Kitchens: Growing Faraway Seeds Into Local Plates

Refugee Kitchens: Growing Faraway Seeds Into Local Plates

Refugee Kitchens: Growing Faraway Seeds Into Local Plates


A refugee kitchen dish

Refugee Chefs prepare incredible dishes of their native traditions.


Food is a universal language. Go to Italy, and you won’t have to speak a word of Italian to meet eyes with the chef and acknowledge a good bowl of pasta. Food is also a universal human need; for rich, poor, or in between, refugee kitchens feed without discrimination. 

 When refugees resettle in the United States, they bring with them a deep food heritage rich in culture and tradition, where their new community is better for their knowledge. 

In 2022, the United States will welcome up to 125,000 refugees. From 2010 to 2020 most refugees were fleeing their countries due to political upheaval and came predominantly from Myanmar, Iraq, and Bhutan. In 2021, this changed almost completely with refugees hailing from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Syria, Afghanistan, and Ukraine. 

These families are asylum seekers fleeing war and upheaval or those who have had their human rights violated. At the end of each day, we are all the same, driven to ensure the safety and happiness of our families through a prosperous livelihood. 

While they often arrive with only the clothes on their back, refugees’ food knowledge travels within them. Given the opportunity to use this specialty knowledge can allow refugee families to build a life while enriching their local communities with authentic cuisine, traditions, and stories at the same time. Food creates a common language to make connections with a new community. It is the ultimate uniter, where breaking bread is a universal language. 

Perhaps the biggest impact of supporting refugee chefs is letting them shed the term “refugee” as they transition to contributing community members. Refugee kitchens and work programs give every human a seat at the table where they can dream a livelihood into reality without judgment.  

Below we highlight five refugee kitchens that are elevating refugee voices through food. 


Five Refugee Kitchens Worth Supporting

United We Eat Refugee Kitchen

United We Eat Refugee Kitchen


1. United We Eat

Where: Missoula, Montana

Offers: Takeaway Every Thursday, Catering, Classes, Supper Club

United We Eat celebrates its newest international neighbors with a rotating list of guest chefs from Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Syria, all of who tell their stories through bespoke weekly menus. 

The menu goes out via email on Thursday mornings and takeaway meals sell out in minutes. A sign above each chef encourages customers to greet them in their local language, a small but significant bridge-building sentiment.

United We Eat also hosts cooking classes, supper clubs, and cookie sales to supplement refugee incomes. 


A refugee kitchen dish

Sanctuary Kitchen’s Refugee Chefs prepare incredible dishes for supper clubs and catering.


2. Sanctuary Kitchen

Where: New Haven, Connecticut

Offers: Pre Orders, Pick, Delivery, Classes, Supper Club

Sanctuary Kitchen was formed in 2017 to celebrate acceptance and elevate the personal stories of refugees that have resettled in Connecticut. Their kitchen offers weekly menus, plant-based meal plans, and Syrian, Afghan, and Iraqi catering menus. 

Sanctuary kitchen also hosts cooking classes and culinary events featuring Mexican, Dominican Republic, and Sudanese cuisine. In addition, support for the Sanctuary Kitchen helps to provide crucial training and support an income for displaced families who can go on to be part of building their communities through entrepreneurship. 


Eat Offbeat Delivery In Brooklyn, New York

Eat Offbeat Delivery In Brooklyn, New York


3. Eat Offbeat

Where: Greater New York

Hours: Deliveries, Catering, Subscription, Refugee-Made Provisions Shipped Nationwide

Eat Offbeat combines the naturally emotional connection of food to home with a desire to bring authentic dishes from all over the world through refugee chefs. Eight chefs from Syria, Myanmar, Iraq, Afghanistan, Senegal, and Venezuela prepare bespoke menus shipped in meal boxes all over the greater New York area via a commercial kitchen in Queens. 

The kitchen creates jobs for talented refugees, creates connections for customers between the story of the food and the international refugee chefs who prepare it and changes the narrative around refugee lives in the United States. 

In addition, they ship specialty provisions all over the nation which include; Senegalese spiced nuts, Iraqi walnut tahini dates, Syrian sesame cookies, and Venezuelan jams.


The Ubuntu Kitchen is Part of Project Feast, Kent, Washington

The Ubuntu Kitchen is Part of Project Feast, Kent, Washington(Matt Mills McKnight/Cascade Public Media)


4. Project Feast

Where: Kent, Washington

Offers: Ubuntu Street Cafe, Delivery, Catering

Project Feast is more than a kitchen passing authentic culinary traditions from refugee chefs to customers. In addition, it is also a place that provides a future in the form of language courses and culinary apprenticeships.  These skills create a pathway to food entrepreneurism for people displaced from their home countries.

The Cooking Ubuntu Cafe Project elevates the international voices of over ⅓ of the local community sharing common bonds that connect humanity. A visit to the cafe supports pathways for refugees to graduate from a program and go on to food careers or to build their own businesses. 


Delicious By Shereen is a refugee kitchen that supports women

Delicious By Shereen is a refugee kitchen that supports women refugees through their training and catering programs.


5. Delicious

Where: Winston-Salem/Greenboro,  North Carolina

Offers: Catering

Delicious, founded by Egyptian native Shereen Gomaa, is an inspiring non-profit built to help female refugees find their path. This North Carolina kitchen features a celebrated catering service. They specialize in authentic Egyptian and Middle Eastern cuisine prepared by refugee women combining skillets with skill-making opportunities

Additionally, team members at Delicious can make their own hours. This allows them the freedom to care for their other obligations.  In addition, when they aren’t catering to their loyal community following, they pass on the help to other community groups by donating food. 




SAPi’s Best of Food Trucks: Greenville, South Carolina

SAPi’s Best of Food Trucks: Greenville, South Carolina

SAPi’s Best of Food Trucks: Greenville, South Carolina

Thoroughfare Food Truck, South Carolina

Thoroughfare Food Truck, South Carolina


SAPi is determined to find the best food truck experiences all over the United States. This week we are bringing you the top five best food trucks in Greenville, South Carolina.

Food trucks are no longer just for cheap hotdogs and fast eats. Instead, the evolution of the food truck over the past few years has brought us the culinary best of both local favorites and foreign delights.

Greenville offers fine dining on four wheels with this edition of SAPi’s Best of Food Trucks.

The Five Best Food Trucks of Greenville, South Carolina

Thoroughfare Food Truck, South Carolina

Thoroughfare Food Truck, South Carolina

1. Thoroughfare Food Truck

Specialty: Seasonal Street Eats

The Thoroughfare Food Truck boasts itself to be the longest-running food truck in upstate South Carolina. Open since 2013; they serve a rotating menu of simple dishes with big flavors. A rotating menu means they are committed to sourcing seasonally and locally when possible making their ever-changing always fresh. 

Must Try: Shrimp and Grits, Tots with Bacon Jam, and Butternut Squash Soup.

The Black Thai, South Carolina

The Black Thai, South Carolina

2. The Black Thai

Specialty: Fusion American Thai

The Black Thai blends traditional Thai cuisine with a modern American food truck flair. Established in 2018 by Greenville locals, this beloved food truck offers a fine dining fusion experience and regularly pops up at The Community Tap and Grateful Brew. Proving that they are more than just a food truck, their  Pad Thai Rice is as much raved about as their well-known hospitality.

Must Try: The Brussel Box tossed in Honey Ponzu Sauce, Black Thai Burger with an artisan mix of chuck beef and duck, Pad Thai Fried Rice

One Love Food Truck, South Carolina

One Love Food Truck, South Carolina

3. One Love Fusion Foods

Specialty: Fusion Southern Comfort

The One Love Fusion Foods truck is an award-winning kitchen on wheels boasting two first-place prizes in the US Foods Silver Spoon Challenge. They regularly pop up at the Greer Farmer’s Market, Cityscape Winery, and festivals around South Carolina. Their cult following has allowed them to grow in seven locations throughout the state with plates featuring BBQ, tacos, and salads. 

Must Try: Coconut Shrimp Spinach Salad, Kingston Nachos, and Unity Buffalo Chicken Tacos

Project Host Food Truck, South Carolina

Project Host Food Truck, South Carolina

4. Project Host

Specialty: Soups

Project Host’s “Hostmobie” is a food truck with a mission. Operating as a mobile soup kitchen on the pay-it-forward model, their social endeavor feeds the hungry and trains the unemployed. Paid meal services several nights per week provide a 1:1 free meal in areas of need in the community. They are also available for private catering. 

Must Try: Seasonal Soups 

We Got The Beets Food Truck, South Carolina

We Got The Beets Food Truck, South Carolina

5. We Got The Beets

Specialty: Plant-Based

We Got The Beets is Upstate South Carolina’s first ever all plant-based food truck. Their dishes are delicious and also happen to be dairy-free, cruelty-free, and bursting with boldly flavored sauces. Doing a service to all farm animals everywhere, they serve incredible vegan versions of classic street fare, including souped-up hotdogs and plant-based burgers. 

Must Try: Pineapple Upside Down Burger, Sushi Sandwich. Brown Sugar Peach Cheezecake


SAPi’s Best of Food Truck Parks: Austin, Texas

SAPi’s Best of Food Truck Parks: Austin, Texas

SAPi’s Best of Food Truck Parks: Austin, Texas

Patrizi's Italian Food Truck, Austin, Texas

Patrizi’s Italian Food Truck, Austin, Texas


SAPi is determined to find the best food truck experiences all over the United States. This week we are bringing you the top five best food truck parks in Austin, Texas.

The Austin food scene is replete with cutting-edge culinary cuisines, but it wouldn’t be complete without its world-class food truck scene. The food trucks found in the fresh, funky city are the embodiment of Austin’s laid-back, socially driven culture where a hot happy hour can just as likely be found in a trendy new cocktail bar as in a happening parking lot.

Austin has an estimated 1200 active food trucks that make up the prolific parking lot fine dining scene. Narrowing down the top five would be unfair, so instead, in this edition of SAPi’s Best of Food Trucks we’ll be highlighting the best Food Truck PARKS that make up Austin’s foodie landscape. 

That’s right, Austin has enough Food Truck Parks to make an entire list (or maybe two!). Have we found foodie paradise in a back lot with twinkling lights and picnic tables? Maybe. 

Top Five Food Truck Parks In Austin, Texas

The Picnic Food Pavilion, Austin Texas

The Picnic Food Pavilion, Austin Texas

1. The Picnic: Austin’s Original Food Truck Park

Location: 1720 Barton Springs Road 

Specialty: Boutique Shopping & Covered Pavillions

The Picnic was founded on the principle that supporting local is the best investment for Austin’s food community. They also commit to supporting small food truck businesses long-term with one-year leases. 

They boast of some unheard of food truck park amenities such as; boutique shopping, covered pavilion areas, and air-conditioned bathrooms. Food truck flavors range from TexMex to Thai and rotate making for a fresh experience with every visit. As an added bonus, The Picnic is open seven days a week, ready to fulfill your culinary cravings! 

Must Try: Empanada’s from Yapa Artisan Empanadas, street Italian by Cannone Cucina Italiana, and Hey Cupcake for dessert. 

The Pangea Lounge Food Trucks, Austin Texas

The Pangea Lounge Food Trucks, Austin Texas

2. Pangea Lounge

Location: 1211 E 6th St

Specialty: Live Music, Hammocks

The Pangea Lounge is an ideal location for those in East Austin. It creates the epitome of a laid-back vibe complete with hammocks for those who actually want to lay back after a big meal. They also host outside vendors and live music events on a regular schedule. Serving not just your average fare, this is where you go for Columbia street eats and Venezuelan Pepitos. 

Must Try: Bazilian Cozhina from Boteco, Bela Fria Hot Dog from Pepitos, and Tacos Al Paisa.

Photo Credit: Thicket Austin

The Brooklyn Breakfast Shop, Austin Texas

The Brooklyn Breakfast Shop, Thicket South Austin Food Truck Park

3. Thicket Food Truck Park

Location: 7800 South 1st Street

Specialty: Play Areas, Live Music, Yoga, Open Mic

Serving South Austin, Thicket Food Truck Park is family-friendly community gathering space with tasty food trucks, play areas, and live music. It’s the perfect spot for families who don’t have babysitters but want to take a pseudo-date! The Thicket is an ideal brunch or lunch spot where parents can feast on the Brooklyn Breakfast Shop or Revolution Vegan Kitchen while watching the littles play at the jungle gym. 

Must Try: Breakfast Chilaquiles from Revolution Vegan Kitchen, ceviche at Un Mundo de Sabor, and Sweet Monkey Plantains at Plantain Bar

Photo Credit: Heart of Texas Peace Corps Association

Mueller Trailer Eats, Food Truck Park, Austin Texas

Mueller Trailer Eats, Food Truck Park, Austin Texas

4. Mueller Trailer Eats

Location: 4209 Airport Blvd

Specialty: Laid Back Picnic Vibes

Mueller Trailer Eats is a whole vibe located in the Historic Browning Hangar. Colorful picnic tables and even a converted school bus food truck set the scene for a fun night out. This food truck paradise is easily accessible and features a variety of cuisine from plant-based vegan eats to exceptional grilled burgers. 

The Mueller Trailer Eats food truck park is open seven days a week until 8 pm.

Must Try: Vegan wraps from Conscious Craving, the ATX Burger from The Stonehouse Woodfire Grill, and Austin’s authority on all things Mexican, Veracruz Natural.

Rainey Street Food Trucks, Austin, Texas

Photo Credit: Visit Austin
Rainey Street Food Trucks, Austin, Texas

5. Rainey Street Food Trucks

Location: Rainey Street

Specialty: Tons of Variety, Great Date Night

The Rainey Street Food Trucks are the night out you didn’t know you needed. With a laid-back dress code, twenty food trucks to choose from, and live music alongside street bars, this might just be a foodie mecca. Rainey Street boasts every kind of cuisine alongside the banks of Lady Bird Lake. Rainey Street is the less crowded version of 6th Street with all the same funky energy. 

Must Try: Chicken Lollipops from Tommy Want Wingy, French Crepes from Saporlipopette, and Mini Donuts from the neon pink Little Lucy’s.

Read More: SAPi’s Best of Food Trucks: Greenville, South Carolina


SAPi Food Hustlers: Jessica Callahan

SAPi Food Hustlers: Jessica Callahan

SAPi Food Hustlers: Breaking Bread with Fourth Circle Doula’s Jessica Callahan

Each installment of SAPi’s Food Hustlers will highlight locally minded people who are doing their part in the food business ecosystem. Whether they are running a Refugee Kitchen or scaling a food truck, we want to know what drives them!

In the first edition of Food Hustlers, we’ll highlight a woman who is a community food activist by passion and a food doula by profession.

Jessica Callahan was born in the rural countryside of Southwest Washington without an authentic dish of any nationality to be found within many miles. In fact, her most exotic self-served after school meal was rehydrated Top Ramen with slices of cheddar cheese thrown on top for good umami measure. 

Raised by a salt of the earth mother who surrounded their country house with a garden acre of produce, she knew fresh from the dirt ingredients when she saw them, but not necessarily how to wield them. 

Eventually, a move from the outskirts of the culinary desert of rural Washington and into the notoriously food-centric community-driven city of Portland, Oregon, led her on a self-paved path of food therapy. 

Encounters with naturopaths and urban foragers, and a heightened desire to feed her growing family better (in both the nourishment and health sense), led Callahan to become a food doula. 

Realizing that food had always impacted her emotional well-being, she began to wield food as a powerful tool of healing and support. From making witchy tinctures out of her urban Portland garden to sending baked cannabis confections out her back door to fellow moms in need more than 15 years ago, she has evolved into a sought-after Private Chef and Food Doula with her company Fourth Circle Doula.

Callahan has a created her own bespoke food ecosystem by forming a nexus of local farmers and community gardens and teaming up with other local changemakers to bring food equality to her current small town rural community in Toledo, Washington. Tasked with a mission to spread loving kindness by the plate, she is the food changemaker every community deserves. 

So how does a loose and wild backwoods urban forager turn into a refined food therapist? We meet her mid-strainer at her kitchen counter while extricating tiny tomato seeds from last year’s preserves to find out. 

Callahan’s Seasonal Grilled Peaches 

Callahan’s Seasonal Grilled Peaches

Thank you for making time for us during dinner prep! Can you tell SAPi about your food hustle with your company Fourth Circle Doula:

A food doula can do a lot of things, but what I do as a food doula is more along the lines of being a private chef but with a real nurturing and therapeutic component. I am essentially a private chef except with the primary goal of nourishing and caring for you beyond just preparing the food. 

Sometimes I prepare food in my client’s kitchen and sometimes in my own kitchen. Most of my clients prefer me to come into their homes because it has that extra freshness, and they are possibly able to learn in the process. 

What was your food hustle before food doula work?

I started out as a postpartum doula, working to care for families when a new baby (or babies!) arrived. This had a heavy food component where I was nurturing new moms and families through a big transition time, preparing nutritious meals, and taking the time burden off their shoulders so they could recover and enjoy their new family. 

I also had a cottage business many years ago making “herbal baked goods” that I felt were a real symbol of nurture and care. Actually, I still use herbs, just different ones! 

I would never have said I was a foodie growing up – I think I just knew what food did for my feelings! I wasn’t exposed to a lot of different foods growing up at all. Then I had a roommate in Portland who was a super foodie and introduced me to a whole new world. Then entering motherhood, I wanted to go beyond using food for just nutrients. 

A few nauseous pregnancies led me to learn how to do a good job on the few foods I could get in. That really kicked off a mission of food empowerment.  

A typical day of a Food Doula Photo Credit: Fourth Circle Doula

A typical day of a Food Doula Photo Credit: Fourth Circle Doula

What kind of people are in need of a food therapist like yourself?

I’ve been so lucky to have consistently had clients seek me out through word of mouth. Most of the time its people who have autoimmune issues, allergies, Chron’s, or Celiac disease, where eating out or preparing their own food is really hard for them. They have to prepare every one of their meals, so I help them to follow their diet while giving them a break. 

I have also had a lot of overworked parents who might have kids who are picky eaters who are over cooking one dish on repeat. I think what a food doula offers is support for food stress. For instance, reminders that mealtime isn’t just what they eat. It’s the sitting down, lighting a candle, saying what you’re grateful for, whatever it takes to create a nourishing experience, not just a meal. 

I also feel like it’s part of the privilege of having the client base I have. My service makes a lot of difference in these people’s lives and sometimes the people who need it most can’t afford it. I try to think about other ways to give back to the community using my skills by dropping off food to people down with COVID, helping out at local farms, and volunteering with the local food exchange. 

What does a typical day/week look like in the life of an acclaimed food doula?

Honestly, I don’t cook a lot during the day. I tend to cook later at night. Like all small businesses, I spend a lot of time at the beginning of the day doing admin tasks like menu planning, I try to stay fresh all the time. It’s a labor of love to chase ingredients from farms, co-op groups, and a community “grow to give” exchange. I also live on a cattle farm, so that’s easy to source from. 

This summer, Callahan helped to form the grassroots Toledo Neighbors program which saw residents from all different walks of life teaming up to revitalize the local food bank and create a local food exchange. 

 You are recognized as one of your community’s food changemakers- where is the system thriving in your community, and where does it still need fertilizer?

I think it’s fortunate living in a rural community where everyone with a yard is growing something, even if it’s just some tomatoes in the front. Luckily in the Northwest, we don’t deal with drought and growing our own food can ease the burden on the larger food system. 

People in this community really care about food access for everyone. It seems to be a great uniting force, and there seems to be no political divide. It really helps our humanity. 

For example, the Toledo Neighbors community group grows food specifically to give to anybody. With that group, the emphasis is that you don’t have to be low-income to come to get food; it’s for everybody. It’s a nice way to exchange and stay local and take the stigma out of donated food. No, you don’t have to be low-income, communities share food. 

What we need help with is finding an easy way to shift the other resources that make it difficult for people to utilize the free food resources. They have all these fresh fruits and veggies for dinner but don’t have the hours of cooking and cleaning up to invest. We need to make family work schedules more manageable so they aren’t pulling up to the fast food place out of survival. 

It shouldn’t be a burden when you get beautiful farm-fresh produce. We try in our community groups to get already prepared food out to people to ease the burden. People can’t just eat out of cans forever. 

What are your favorite food rituals for making your own meals, and do you have hard and fast kitchen rules for your family? 

I think because I love to cook always that I probably have a rhythm that involves starting with a clean kitchen and putting on my podcasts (any NPR or Marc Maron). 

We meet at the kitchen island, and my family eats while I’m still working. I’ll kind of eat and work on one side, and we’ll talk. I love that time. 

You lead both your professional and personal life with an onus of “Loving Kindness,” do you think kindness can be edible?

I think there is alchemy in the food that drives feelings and love. I think it’s vulnerable to want to care for people like that, to put all that into the food you make for people truly out of love. It’s not vulnerable to just boil everything that is grown and put some salt on it and say: “here are your calories”. 

I think cooking is the ultimate act of kindness. It doesn’t really take what I perceive to be too much work. It’s very natural, pure, full, and good. I feel like you can take whatever feelings you’re having, and you can go into the kitchen and come out with a love meal. 

I really love making people feel cared for and nurtured. Words are harder for me. I’m a real serious introvert. Food is my love language. 

What is the strangest/fun request that you have gotten as a food doula?

I did have one client who ate rice pilaf and zucchini noodle lasagna every single day for nine months. 

What’s a piece of advice you would give a future food doula?

My piece of advice is that loving-kindness is not just for your clients but for yourself. You need to maintain your boundaries. If I knew what was ahead in my career, I would do it all over again. 

Cheesy Grits with Slow Cooked Greens and smokes Chili Oil  Photo Credit: Fourth Circle Doula

Cheesy Grits with Slow Cooked Greens and smokes Chili Oil  Photo Credit: Fourth Circle Doula

To finish our interview can we ask you some rapid fire foodie questions?


SAPi’s Rapid Fire Foodie Questions 

Whose food hustle do you respect?

The Black Forager, Alexis Nikole Nelson

The best food scene in the world?

It’s a tie between The Berlin Food Hall and Chungking Mansions food stalls in Hong Kong.

Best music to cook to?

Any dance music. 

Farthest you’ve traveled to get a special ingredient?

Nutmeg from Amsterdam and peppers from Guadalajara. 

Most prized kitchen tool?

A gift from my Auntie Ann, a  Le Creuset cast iron pan that is now 20 years old. 

Go to potluck dish?

Salsa Verde Enchiladas

What do you eat when you are too tired to cook?

Bananas and Cereal at least once a week. 

Cuisine that is missing in your local area that you would love to see?

Any real Asian cuisine. And really anything not of this continent. 

Best food you’ve never eaten?

Real French pastry.