Black History 365: Sherród Faulks

We are highlighting examples of Black excellence throughout the year! Feel free to send us suggestions!

The Great Ones is a celebration of humans we admire — and an exploration of why they cook, not just how. Sherród Faulks has been cooking all his life, and in 2019, he discovered another passion: pottery. In 2020, Sherród launched his own pottery business, DEEP BLACK, with an emphasis on creating luxurious yet accessible products as well as uplifting artisans of color. We teamed up with Sherród to create a spoon rest and joined him in his kitchen to talk all about his journey to DEEP BLACK.

To say that I’m a cooking person is a major understatement. I started cooking when I was 14, about 20 years ago. I took cooking classes during school, took catering in school, and in college I cooked professionally to put myself through school. I looked up to many of the cooks in my family; my dad is one of the major cooks in my family. My aunt Ella Mae was another main cook in the family. I loved how at holidays the old folks would just sit back and watch. I would feed off of her energy and admire how she was able to bring together the whole family. I thought, I want to be able to do this for the important people in my life.

After college, cooking fell to the wayside, but a few years later my friend and I came up with this idea to create a food media company before that was really a thing, in 2014. It’s called Slice & Torte. That’s when food became an activity for me. Slice and Torte was the birth of my food-blogging career. 

Also, I was a very homosexual child, so Martha Stewart was on 24/7. I loved that kind of lifestyle of cocktail parties and dinner parties, even though I was 14. I wanted to be that person — and I am, and I love it.

Any time I have a dinner party I always try to push the envelope. I like to push people outside of their comfort zone. Whenever I cook for other people I am cooking for myself. I consider other people’s tastes, but I think I have good taste and want other people to try new things. I want to pique people’s curiosity. I think dining should be fun. What the hell is the point of having friends and family over if you’re not going to have fun?

I think dining should be fun. What the hell is the point of having friends and family over if you’re not going to have fun?

My family is very Southern and old-school. But I did not grow up cooking soul food. My first-ever cookbook was from my aunt, and it was on pan-Asian cuisine. I cooked that book cover to cover. My mom was sick of everything smelling like fish sauce! I was in high school; I did not have a life. I just went to Asian grocery stores and kept cooking. But that book gave me fundamentals. Today I especially love to cook Korean food, and Japanese food has always been very close to my heart.

I left Virginia when I was 16, and I just came back. For the very first Mother’s Day, I made this marinated chicken and cucumber salad with gochugaru and kimbap. Everyone loved it. At first everyone was eyeing the food like, I don’t know about that … Is it spicy? But those plates were clean, honey!

Cooking is exhilarating every time. When I started it was kind of scary, and it felt complex. As I ascended in my cooking career, though, I got into molecular gastronomy, and I got into classic French cuisine. The dishes kept getting more complex. Then once I got divorced I said, “Oh, I don’t need to cook no more.” For a while, I just kind of unclenched and realized I could just make easy food — just simple and just fun. I did not cook for a year, and then I got my mojo back.

Cooking is exhilarating every time.

I feel in control, and I feel powerful in the kitchen. I’ve always said that cooking is the one and only form of magic on this planet. You can stop time. I can put peaches in a jar, and a year later they will still be good. I can put you back in your childhood, or I can make you travel forward. I can heal your body with my food. It’s all power. It’s pure alchemy.

I’ve always said that cooking is the one and only form of magic on this planet. You can stop time.

When I got divorced I was like, Oh f–k it, I’m doing everything! I traveled, and then I bought the Dutchess in Mustard. It was the first thing I bought that made me feel like I had my power back. It was like saying, “Here is something you’ve been denied … now have fun with it.” The other thing was ceramics. I always wanted to take a class, and the instant I sat down, I was like, Oh, got it got it got it. It was an instant connection, and it was so obvious that that was what I wanted to do.

I would go into the studio every day for six to seven hours at a time and just practice. At the end of 2019 I knew I wanted to do ceramics professionally. In about three months I had the business model, the financial plan, shipping, visuals — I got it together, honey!

I launched in March 2020, but sales didn’t really pick up until the summer. George Floyd was killed, and the whole nation erupted. Within the art community, especially, it hit hard. It seemed like all of the Black artists were like, “You know what? This ain’t working.”

I wrote a post about how I feel in these spaces and what people can actually do instead of giving me stupid platitudes, and it went kind of viral, and I got a lot of support and traction out of it. It showed me that I wasn’t alone and there were a lot of artists who would support me if I would just sink into this community.

I felt like I was getting so much love and support. I wanted to do something good with it, and I donated a solid 40% of what I made. I sunk in with the community and customers and other companies, and they have buoyed me in return.

I am obsessed with longevity. I hope that people will buy my pieces and think, That is the most beautiful thing I’ve seen — I have to have it in my home! My hope is they keep it forever and their kids pass it on to their kids, or the pieces go to a new home. I want my pieces to last forever and for people to love them.

I’m so detailed, so this spoon rest was designed with a capital D! From the curvature of the base to the shoulder to the way the glaze is applied, every bit of it is intentional. That’s me as a designer. I like to think about how you’ll place the spoon on the rest, how the juices will drip off the spoon, and how they will rest in that dish. I think what we ended up with … these glazes sing. There are certain colors that make me feel joyful, electric, or like the sun. So I was so happy with how these came out. The blue hue of this spoon rest was a complete and total accident. I was just messing around with this blue, and now I can’t get rid of it. This was truly a custom collaboration.

My partner just moved in with me, and in my mind I had this idea that I’d be making roast chicken every Sunday and we’d be sipping cocktails with the hydrangeas in the background. In reality, we are very busy … Still, I wanted to make a recipe that spoke to the kind of home I wanted to build. The recipe I came up with and that I cooked today is this garlic roast chicken and herb sauce. I used King Sear, and I love it because it’s enormous, which is perfect for this! You need that space for all the fat to come out. I also snuck in Holy Sheet to roast some vegetables, and, of course, the spoon rest.

What I love about this dish is that everything about it is incorrect. It goes against all conventional classical cooking rules. You use a garlic press to press the garlic. You have to almost burn the garlic. It goes directly onto a very hot pan. The chicken is pressed within an inch of its life. The sauce is just the drippings from the pan with herbs. This chicken is out-of-this-world good, and it’s easy. It’s deeply chicken-y. And you can serve it for two, for a dinner party, or, to be honest, you can just cook it for yourself. Not a lot of recipes work like that. This is a crown jewel in my collection of recipes.