Chef Fernay McPherson — Minnie Bell's
“When people eat my food, I always want them to feel like they're at the kitchen table...”

In our long-awaited 51st episode, we hear the story of Minnie Bell's Soul Movement, a food business that has long been simmering for chef/owner Fernay McPherson.

Chef McPherson grew up in San Francisco’s Fillmore District—a historically vibrant African American neighborhood—and longs to bring her food back there someday. The area has struggled to maintain its roots, as rent and cost of living prices have skyrocketed. Even chef David Lawrence of 1300 Fillmore and Black Bark BBQ, who we met in episode 25, had to shutter the doors of both staple Fillmore District restaurants within a year from the time we sat down with chef McPherson. We hear her speak about how chef Lawrence mentors and inspires her work—at the time this episode was recorded in fall of 2017, chef Lawrence’s restaurants still appeared to be going strong, as far as we knew.

What will become of chef McPherson’s efforts to bring her soul food movement back to her neighborhood remains to be seen. We know we, at Menu Stories, are rooting her on from the sidelines. For now, you can enjoy the family-inspired recipes of Minnie Bell's at the Emeryville Public Market.

Listen to the episode to hear McPherson share how determination took her from working as a San Francisco Muni bus driver to participating in La Cocina's food business program, which helped McPherson pursue her dream of being a chef.

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Fresh herbs await chopping for chef Fernay's dishes
Chef Fernay McPherson of Minnie Bell's preps herbs on a cutting board Seasoned chicken awaits frying in a pot
Fried chicken is prepared at the La Cocina commercial kitchen for Minnie Bell's  Flour-coated chicken pieces soon to be fried
Collard greens simmer in a pot Red beans and rice is a favorite side from Minnie Bell's Soul Food
Chef Fernay McPherson holds a tray of freshly fried chicken Chef Fernay McPherson, once a Muni bus driver, stands outside of La Cocina which helped her launch Minnie Bell's Soul Food La Cocina alum chef Fernay McPherson works on plating fried chicken with red beans and rice  Collard greens, red beans and rice, and Minnie Bell's famous fried chicken Chef Fernay McPherson, now a grandmother, named Minnie Bell's after her great aunt and her own grandmother, who inspired her love of food

Lead photographer & photo editor: Monica Lo
Portraits & additional photography: Rebecca Goberstein
Videographer & video producer: Patrick Wong
Episode producer: Rebecca Goberstein

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