“The Belles are back,” and the fans of the OWN hit show “Belle Collective” couldn’t be more excited. Returning for season three on Friday, May 19, the show follows six successful Black women in the city of Jackson, Mississippi, as they navigate the ups and downs of business and life around a common goal of redeveloping the historic Farish District once known as the hub for Black-owned businesses.
Introduced during season two, viewers can look forward to more screen time and an expanded storyline from one of Jackson’s top real estate agents Sophia “So Gucci” Williams. “This season three, I am a lot more transparent. They wanted more So Gucci, and they are going to get a lot more So Gucci. They are going to see a different So Gucci. I got it now. I am voicing my opinion more. You’re going to see a lot more of what’s going on in my family and how J and I are trying to work out this blended family,” says the mother of two.
Seeing more of Williams also includes watching the Southern Belle at home in the kitchen with her husband JJ, a TV veteran from the dance show “Bring It,” which aired from 2014 – 2018. “The one thing about me that people don’t know is that Gucci cooks. My husband says, “Oh my God baby, I love when you cook,” says Williams.
Cooking is a family tradition that Williams learned at a young age, and it was another special man in her life who taught her everything she knows today.
“My mom died when I was 6. So my dad had to take care of ten kids. He had to be creative when he prepared meals, and mealtime was a time when we all gathered at the table. The big mealtime was on Sundays. He was real good with baking and cooking,” Williams shares about her father, who passed away in December of last year.
Coming from a family of great cooks and bakers ahead of him, Alvin Otis was known in the neighborhood for his cooking skills and the hospitality he shared with others.
“I would be the one in the kitchen with my dad. I was just learning how he mixed up the cornbread, what spices he would put in his food. He would teach me because he knew he would be the one having to teach his girls how to be women.”
Greens, sweet potatoes, macaroni and cheese, meatloaf and dressing are just a sample of the soul food classics Williams’ dad would make sure his children cooked and did so well. Cornbread was a dinner staple that he perfected. “We had cornbread with every meal. I don’t care if it didn’t go [together]. We had spaghetti, we had cornbread,” laughs Williams when thinking back to this childhood memory.
As an adult and having children of her own, So Gucci naturally found it easy to make her way around the kitchen when it came to preparing meals for her family. Building on what her dad taught her, she later began putting a healthier spin on his recipes, one that even her husband enjoys. Her kale strawberry salad tossed lightly in olive oil is one of the couple’s favorites.
Words by V. Sheree Williams
Cuisine Noir Magazine is the country’s first Black food publication, launched in 2009 and dedicated to connecting the African diaspora through food, drink and travel. To read the rest of this article and more, visit www.cuisinenoirmag.com.