Wearing a royal blue and white African-inspired embroidered chic blouse, punctuated by her bright and enormous smile, V. Sheree Williams entered the room while cheerfully welcoming guests at Cuisine Noir Magazine’s 10th-anniversary celebration soiree in Oakland, Calif. “It was really amazing having so many of my family members and the people who showed up for our ten-year anniversary…being there to support me and my dreams. It just meant the world,” says Williams.
Williams says this was a night of swirling positive emotions – reflecting on the magazine’s sometimes winding journey of success. Thankfully she says there’ve been many more triumphs fulfilling Cuisine Noir’s principle directive which is to shed a light, perhaps for the first time, on chefs of color and their food creations, everyday food enthusiasts and their unique takes on recipes, as well as celebrities, travel and other stories of interests to readers that have never been written or told. “We have so much to be proud of – with the creative conversations that we’ve started. We love and enjoy encouraging people to shine with their inspirations,” she shares.
Applause, hugs, laughter along with belly-filling foods, local wines and specialty drinks filled the abstractly decorated Neyborly venue – a re-purposed former warehouse in the Jack London Square area of town.
Williams is kind of like the artist Michelangelo but with a focus like that of a laser pointer. She seems to be the embodiment of a leader who knows her vision for Cuisine Noir’s present and its future. “We really want to solidify our place as that publication that is bringing the African Diaspora together. We want to be that place of authority when it comes to who’s doing what and where – where people come for food recipes, wine selections and destination adventures and opportunities to grow their businesses.”
As the founder of V. Sheree Publishing, she says having achieved a decade of success showcasing the connection of Black America and African Diaspora through food, wine and travel is indeed a significant milestone. The journey has also brought about a sense of enlightenment in her life. “Any entrepreneur knows it can be difficult if you try to go it alone. It can be overwhelming. But, just knowing that you have people, someone there with you to support you really makes the journey so much easier. They are that needed encouragement to keep going.”
Williams says when she first met Chef Richard Pannell, the founder of the magazine, he wanted to re-image the magazine that originated while he was living in Los Angeles. She knew that this project was something special that the whole world should know about the need and desire to share experiences and stories of African Americans in a creative vision. She took over ownership in 2009 and moved its headquarters to Oakland.
As the home base for the publication, Williams said it was a natural fit because of the city’s diverse population and culture, and its proximity to California’s wine countries in Napa, Livermore and more. Oakland is also adjacent to the technology hubs in Silicon Valley and one-of-a-kind restaurants in what’s known as the Bay Area.
Williams emphasizes she’s only getting started with the magazine’s direction. She’s quite attuned to hearing ideas, lots of them no matter how wild they may sound. “Another part of our vision is to make sure that we as Black people are exposed to different experiences that align with how we want to live our lives. This includes where we travel to, the different types of foods we like to eat, wine and other beverages and products that enhance our experiences.”
Sharing that the next ten years will be even brighter than the first, Williams eludes to future plans that include a return to print, videos to visualize its content, recipe sharing for professional chefs and home cooks who want to show off their skills to the world.
For more photos from the evening, click here.