• The Coast Cafe

Soul Food 101 with Chef Anthony Brooks of the Coast Cafe

Soul Food 101 with Chef Anthony Brooks of the Coast Cafe

On February 23, a large group crowded virtually into the kitchen of local soul food institution, The Coast Café, for a cooking demonstration

The Coast Cafe owner and chef, Tony Brooks, and his sister, Jasmine, prepared chicken and waffles, one of the Coast's signature dishes.

The event, “Soul Food 101 with Chef Tony Brooks of the Coast Café” was hosted by The Cambridge Public Library, as part of the city’s celebration of Black History Month. The celebration series included a number of events showcasing the rich current and past contributions of African American Cantabridgians to social justice, government, scholarship, education, history, visual arts, fiction writing, and other arenas.

“I learned from the best,” commented Chef Tony Brooks, “my grandmother, my mother, my brothers, and sisters all taught me!” When asked who from his family makes the best chicken and waffles, Brooks declined to answer because “I don’t want to get in trouble. My whole family is watching this! They are all the best.”

Throughout the demonstration, Chef Brooks shared some of his pro tips and recipe secrets. Many of the participants followed along and shared their finished products at the end of the session. Some participants admitted that they had already eaten some or most of their delicious creations before the end of session sharing time.

A few tips from Chef Brooks:

  • Tenderize the boneless chicken breast with a mallet so the chicken better absorbs the seasoning and cooks evenly.
  • For the best flavor, marinade the chicken in the seasoning for at least an hour – up to one day even better – so the seasoning is absorbed.
  • When preparing to cook the chicken, test the oil with a few shakes of flour to ensure that it is not too hot. If the flour burns, turn down the pan.
  • When asked about how full the pan should be of oil and what kind of oil he uses for cooking chicken, Chef Tony responded “the oil should cover the chicken only halfway. I like to use corn oil for best flavor, but vegetable oil is fine, too.”
  • And, finally, to the waffles. I won’t tell you about Chef Tony’s secret ingredient; you’ll have to try them at Coast Café to see if you can guess. The key to making them light and fluffy is to “fold the batter instead of beating it to make sure to get the air in,” stated Tony, as his sister, Jasmine, demonstrated the technique.

At the end of the demonstration, Chef Tony thanked the attendees, shared his bottled sauces - Coast Hot Sauce, Buffalo Sauce, and Jerk Sauce* - and appealed to the participants to support local restaurants during the pandemic. You can call for pickup or order online for delivery. In response to a question about how to order online for food delivery, Tony said they are on UberEats.

  • Wednesday through Friday 3:00-8:00 PM
  • Saturday 1:00-5:00

617-353-7644 233 River Street Cambridge MA, 02139

The Coast Café Story
In 1997, Tony Brooks and his sister, Julie, opened The Coast Café with the help of their father, Major E. Brooks. The Coast Café is located in the Cambridge neighborhood where Tony grew up (The Coast) and where his father was a dedicated community volunteer. In 2004, Tony maintained ownership and dedicated The Coast Café to the memory of his father to share family recipes and to give back to his community. Today, Tony and his family continue to serve healthy, savory soul food made with 100% pure love!

*Sauces can be purchased in-store.