About Chef Rita
Jarita Frazier-King (Chef Rita) has a passion for taking traditional southern soul food and Creole classics and putting her own signature twist on them. Chef Rita says the kitchen is her place of refuge, a place to commune and consult with the ancestors on spices and herbs and present stories on a plate. She is known for signature dish and story of Black-eyed Pea and Collard Green Fritters with a sweet and Spicy Chili Sauce.
Chef Rita was born and raised in Natchez, Mississippi. She is a two-time graduate of Alcorn State University. Over the years, she has worked in the Wellness and Nutrition sector as the Expand Food and Nutrition Educator and later as the Community Nutritional Specialist and EFNEP Program Coordinator at her Alma Mater. Although Jarita is not a classically trained Chef she was self-taught and studied under her Grandmother Beulah, who worked as a chef in the New Orleans Airport Cafeteria. She is currently the Co-Owner of Natchez Heritage School of Cooking (Soul Fusion Natchez) and the CEO of Southwest Wellness Association of Mississippi, a nonprofit organization committed to improving the overall wellness of the Southwest Communities in Mississippi. Her New Roads Kitchen project serves as a mentorship program to enhance workforce skills for re-entry adults and disengaged youths to help generate more productive citizens in the community. King is a Social Justice advocate for community economic improvement and a champion for improving food insecurities in rural communities.
Chef Rita has been featured in the film documentaries Season 2 of the Fly Guy travel Series, Southern Foodways Alliance – Summer Short Film. She was selected as a Mississippi Storyteller for the Mississippi State Bicentennial Celebration “Recipes from the heart.” She is featured in the New York Museum of Food and Drink for the Legacy Quilt Exhibit, honoring African American food and drink producers who have laid the foundation for American cuisine. Chef Rita is the creator of the Soul Food Fusion Festival (SFFF), a Food and Music Festival that features a block-long white linen community dining table. The SFFF is designed to encourage more diverse community engagement. Chef Rita spreads the message to always treat everyone how you want to be treated because when we all come to the table no matter your race, creed, color or sexual orientation, we should all be “Just like Family.”
About the Festival
The term Soul Food originated from the cuisine developed by the African slaves mainly from the American South and is a blend of African Cuisine and Native American Cuisine. Culinary Historian and Author Jessica Harris said, “Food traditions hold symbols and meaning that serve as historical road maps.”