This Traveling Chef Uses Comfort Food To Connect Cultures

By DeAnna Taylor


Santana Burriss is from Charlotte, North Carolina by way of Atlanta. The New York-based traveling chef has been cooking professionally for five years.

We spoke with him via email about his career and how he brings cultures together through food.

Photo courtesy of Santana


Travel Noire: How did you get your start in the culinary industry?

Santana: Back in Atlanta, I left corporate America and started bartending as a way to stay up on food trends, pick chefs’ brains, and to also gain a clientele from people who would come to the bar. Two years into bartending, I found out about this prestigious culinary school called the Culinary Institute of America in New York. Less than a year later, I stopped everything I was doing and moved to New York to attend school. That is what gave me my first push towards a professional culinary career.

Photo courtesy of Santana

TN: How would you describe yourself as a chef?

Santana: From working with different cuisines, cultures, and traveling, I found a way to infuse the comfort food that I grew up on with other cultures’ comfort food. No matter what culture you explore, you find that comfort food is what really connects friends and family.

I present food in an intimate setting while introducing you to new flavors and ingredients from across the earth. When asked to describe the type of food I cook, I respond by saying “contemporary comfort food.”

Photo courtesy of Santana

TN: Tell us about traveling to Mexico to cook?

Santana: Cooking in Mexico was dope. I went with the Black Girls Travel Therapy group and provided food for the ladies throughout the week. The travel therapist, who also served as the organizer of the group, and I got there one day before everyone else to get the vibe of the land. It allowed me to get some inspiration for food and cocktails.

Photo courtesy of Santana

TN: How easy or hard was it for you to gather ingredients in a foreign place?

Santana: Getting to Mexico a day early made it extremely easy to get ingredients. I was able to scout out the local grocery stores and markets to see what was available. I grocery shopped for the majority of the food that day, and throughout the week I was able to take quick trips to pick up other ingredients.

Photo courtesy of Santana

TN: What type of clientele do you typically work with?

Santana: I work mostly with Black professionals, travel groups, entrepreneurs and people who operate in the art space.

Related: Meet The Chefs Cooking For Some Of Our Favorite Celebs Around ATL

TN: Do you have a signature dish or cocktail? If so, what is it?

Santana: A signature dish I have is “Soul Rolls.” In Mexico,  I prepared soul rolls with chicken that was braised in Mexican spices, onions, peppers, avocado, and pepper jack cheese. It was a burst of good flavor and texture. I also do variations of shrimp and grits.

My signature cocktails are punches and sangrias. In Mexico, I got a hold of fresh guava. I made this extremely sexy punch that had tequila, lime, pineapple juice, jalapeño, and guava. It was out of this world!

Photo courtesy of Santana

TN: Where can our readers find you online?

Santana: On Instagram at @SantanaBurriss or my website www.santanaburriss.com.

Travel Noire

DeAnna Taylor

DeAnna Taylor is a criminal defense Attorney turned travel blogger, author, and writer. While Charlotte, NC (her hometown) is her base, she's always somewhere on a plane. Catch her on IG: @brokeandabroadlife.

Want more?

Get exclusive, unpublished tips from Travel Noire's CEO to help you get off the beaten path, into the hearts of locals and onto a better, more cultured life.

Eat Your Way Through Morocco With These Traditional Dishes And Spices

Eat Your Way Through Morocco With These Traditional Dishes And Spices

Morocco is a country located in North Africa with most of its population being Islam. The country is vibrant with its bustling markets, gorgeous architecture, and aromatic dishes. Moroccan cuisine is heavily influenced by Arabic, French, Spanish, and Jewish cultures, resulting in many options — its no wonder Morocco is rated as one of the […]

Kelsey Marie / Morocco

Guess Which Island Will Host The Ninth Annual Caribbean Food And Wine Festival

Guess Which Island Will Host The Ninth Annual Caribbean Food And Wine Festival

Prepare your tastebuds because the ninth annual Caribbean Food & Wine Festival will be taking place from October 31 to November 3 and in a location as hot as the flavors. Turks & Caicos Islands will be the host of this year’s festival, making it one of the largest culinary events to take place on […]

Kelsey Marie / Turks & Caicos

Where To Find African And Caribbean Food in Mexico City

Where To Find African And Caribbean Food in Mexico City

Mexico is famous for flavorful, melt-in-your-mouth meats, which are often offset with a bounty of sauces that range from smokey and savory to dangerously spicy. Although you might not make the connection at first, the country’s cuisine and particularly their approach to slow-cooking meats is not entirely dissimilar from many African, Caribbean, and even African […]

Danielle Dorsey