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Father Essentials: Bryant Terry

Written by Erin Feher

When we decided to let four dads take over our Mother Essentials column for the month of June, we knew they would have to be pretty exceptional to make the cut. And we’re convinced we couldn’t have dreamed up a cooler dad to spotlight in this space than this week’s pick. Bryant Terry is a James Beard Award-winning chef, educator, and author renowned for his activism to create a healthy, just, and sustainable food system. (His fifth book, Vegetable Kingdom, is now available for pre-order.) He is currently in his third year as Chef-in-Residence at the Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD) in San Francisco, and serves on the advisory board for From Mothers to Mothers, a student project at UC Berkeley that was launched with the desire to collect and share postpartum food wisdom of immigrant and refugee Asian American Pacific Islander women. And of course, the Oakland-dweller is a dedicated and loving father to his two girls, Mila, 8, and Zenzi, 4. Below, he shares the 20 Father Essentials he can’t live without.

Lacrosse Ball. “These days I often write at a standing desk. A few months back I started rolling one of my daughter’s lacrosse balls under my feet as I was working, and I haven’t looked back. It releases tension and feels really good.” Lacrosse Ball, $9.97, Amazon.

Lipstick for My Wife. “My lady loves to wear dark lipstick when we go out on the town, so I bought her this gorgeous Black Datura made by Hi Wildflower for Mother’s Day. It’s a win-win since I love staring at her lips.” Hi Wildflower Black Datura Lipstick, $27, Hi Wildflower.

The Bay’s Best Museum. “Our family membership at the Exploratorium in San Francisco is one of the best investments we make every year. More than a museum, the Exploratorium allows visitors to engage the world through science, art, and human perception with more than 650 hands-on exhibits.” Exploratorium family membership, $149, Exploratorium.

Good Chef’s Knife. “Good knives are one of the most important gifts you can give yourself. You want to ensure you have a sharp chef’s knife that feels good in your hand—not too light, not too heavy. The first thing I learned in cooking school was that you’re more likely to get cut using a dull knife than a sharp one. So, purchase a good-quality knife sharpener or find a sharpening service in your area and drop your knives off regularly.” Wüsthof Classic Chef’s Knife, $119.95 – $179.95, Williams-Sonoma.

Perfect Loaf of Bread. “The country loaf at Tartine Manufactory is so scrumptious I drive across the bridge from Oakland to San Francisco to get one almost every two weeks.” Tartine Country Loaf, $10.75, Tartine.

Apple Watch. “I recently got an Apple Watch, and I love it. The most useful functions have been those geared toward fitness and mindfulness. Not only does it track my physical activity and heart rate, it encourages me to drop everything and meditate for one minute throughout the day. I can honestly say that my quality of life has improved after wearing this for the past month.” Apple Watch Series 4, from $399, Apple.  

Beautiful Plants. “I became a plant dad last year when my sister-in-law gifted me a stunning fiddle leaf fig (named Golden Forrest by my girls). The large violin-shaped leaves make this plant a dramatic addition to our home.” Fiddle Leaf Fig, $195, Bloomscape.  

Plant Based Sweatshirt. “This is my everyday sweatshirt. I love the feel and the message. Besides this sweatshirt, Wake the Wolves has an awesome line of apparel geared towards healthful living.” Wake the Wolves Plant Based Sweatshirt. $56, Wake The Wolves.

Farmers’ Market Haul. “In the Bay Area, there is a farmers’ market operating almost everyday of the week. Forks down, the Old Oakland Farmers’ Market is my favorite. The prices are reasonable, they have lots of Asian produce because of its proximity to Chinatown, and one gets to experience the diversity that makes Oakland one of the most special cities in this country because of the mix of people who shop there.”9th Street at Broadway, Old Oakland Farmers’ Market.

Cologne. “I don’t own a lot of colognes, but when I find something I really like I grab it. I bought 04 Petrana by Odin New York about 8 years ago, and it is still my favorite.” Odin New York, 04 Petrana, $165, Barney’s.

F**k, Now There Are Two of You. “This is the forthcoming book by Adam Mansbach, author of Go the F**k to Sleep. As a father of two girls, I’m looking forward to a book to help me laugh at the end of hard days.” F**k, Now There Are Two of You, $15.95, IndieBound.

Book for My Girls. Bring Me Some Apples and I’ll Make You a Pie: A Story About Edna Lewis is a great book for educating children about farm-fresh to table food. Edna Lewis has had a tremendous impact on my approach to cooking, and it is meaningful that my girls feel so connected to her because of this book.” Bring Me Some Apples and I’ll Make You a Pie: A Story About Edna Lewis, $7.99, Indiebound.

Mortar and Pestle. “Historically, mortars and pestles have been crucial to making food in traditional cultures around the world. While many opt for modern tools to crush and grind food, I encourage people to get a mortar and pestle and keep it old school.” Mortar and Pestle, $12, Williams-Sonoma.

Journal. “I keep journals to jot down ideas, vent, and reflect on life. Moleskine is my favorite.” Moleskine Classic Notebook in Myrtle Green, $19.08, Amazon.

A Lucky Man. “This brilliant collection of short stories by Jamel Brinkley explores race, class, and masculinity. The paperback was just released, and I have gifted it to over a dozen people.” A Lucky Man, $26, IndieBound.

Portable Speaker. “Whether hosting friends and family at a cookout, rocking out with my daughters at the park, or chilling on a beach with my wife, this JBL Clip 3 portable speaker always gets the job done.” JBL Clip 3, $39.95, Amazon.  

Top-Shelf Mezcal: “This stuff is not cheap, but it is worth the investment if you are looking for a delicious, bright mescal to drink neat. Great for sipping while you are pounding spices and such in your mortar.” Mezcal Vago Elote, $62, Cask.

Cast-Iron Skillet. “If I had one pan to cook in the rest of my life, it would be a cast-iron skillet. Once they are well seasoned (read up on how to season and care for yours) they essentially function like a non-stick skillet. They also seamlessly transition from the stovetop to the oven. When well taken care of, they last a lifetime.” Staub Cast-Iron Fry Pan, $175–$205, Willams-Sonoma.

Finishing Salt. “From salads to soups. From chocolate to cocktails. Fleur de Sel is a great way to finish some of my favorite dishes.” Fleur de Del, $12, Oaktown Spice Shop.

Biomimicz. “This is the latest project by my mentee, DJ Cavem Moetavation. It’s really good. He is rapping about gardening, eating healthfully, and taking care of the earth. In the wrong hands, that subject matter could come off as corny and didactic, but everything he touches is cool. When people buy it at events he gives them a package of seeds with a code to download the album. He calls it ‘Eco Hip Hop.’” Biomimicz by DJ Cavem Moetavation, Apple.

For more on Bryant Terry, check out his Instagram feed. And for more Mother Essentials, peep our past columns with designer Taylor Jay, clean living expert Kristian Henderson, Oakland retail queen Sherri McMullen, eco-fashion designer Alyssa KerbelShahidah Zareef of Bossmom NationJoanne EncarnacionLaTonya YvetteMorgan Walker of Make.doJeanne Chan of Harlow & Grey, and more.

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