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Soulful Food and Sauces: Through USDA Programs, A Black Agribusiness Owner Rises Internationally

Posted by Zane Evans, Public Affairs Specialist, USDA Foreign Agricultural Service in Trade
Feb 12, 2024
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Food and service have a special place in Walter Brooks, Jr.’s heart. Today, he runs Brooksmade Gourmet Foods in Atlanta, Georgia, which exports clean-label condiments, sauces and rubs.

Walter grew up food insecure, knowing the importance of people having access to quality food options. In the spirit of healthy eating, he paired his entrepreneurial drive with his passion for the culinary arts – making sauces that are good for the soul. Brooksmade’s signature is its clean-label products, which are plant-based and centered on environment-friendly agricultural practices.

Culinary creations are not solely Brooksmade’s agricultural products – they help tell the story of Walter’s life experiences. “Our sauces are not just about taste; they embody a story of heritage, passion, and innovation,” Walter said. “By choosing our chef-created, clean-label products, customers not only elevate their dining experience but also support the growth of Black entrepreneurship. At Brooksmade, we are weaving a narrative that celebrates diversity, flavor and community, one delicious sauce at a time.”

Two arms stirring handmade sauce

Brooksmade’s sauces can be found on shelves and tables around the world, allowing everyone to create delicious soulful food in the comfort of their home. Walter began exporting in 2004 after he met buyers from Mexico, Brazil, and India at Southern United States Trade Association (SUSTA) domestic trade shows. Later at USDA-sponsored trade shows, Walter forged some of his strongest international business partnerships.

Thanks to participating in Gulfood, a USDA-endorsed trade show in 2021, things have really taken off for Brooksmade’s products. Today, patrons can find the company’s sauces on their dinner plates in three different restaurants in the United Arab Emirates. “And now we’re in the process of opening a Brooksmade Gourmet Foods restaurant in Dubai,” Walter said.

Profile picture of a man in a chef coat

In addition to running Brooksmade, Walter mentors aspiring entrepreneurs with the 100 Black Men of America. “In my conversations with fellow Black agribusiness owners, I often stress the significance of recognizing the global market’s potential. Our African American businesses are increasingly sought after, with a growing interest in our influence on food and culture,” Walter said. “Expanding into exports opens doors to a diverse clientele waiting to discover what we have to offer.” Walter’s goal is “curating the most extensive Black-owned agriculture product catalog for export from the United States – showcasing the richness of our community’s contributions on a global scale.”

Later this month, Walter will be cooking a diplomatic dinner at the U.S. consulate in Dubai to celebrate Black History Month and African American cuisine and soul food. We have Black agriculturalists to thank for innovations in food culture and systems. American food and exports would not be the way it is today without Black people’s contributions, visions, and successes.

A gentleman in an apron poses in front of a booth with a gentleman standing behind the booth
Category/Topic: Trade