What is Root?

Root was born from a deep love for community by its founder, Julia. That love has driven all of her work across many fields: as a chef, a writer, professor, museum curator, and as an artist. Everyone eats, and connecting people with their food also connects us to each other.

But it was her love for history and for cooking that gave her the keys to build community. These intertwined loves followed Julia through each of life’s twists and turns, popping up in unexpected places, and sending her on journeys of expansion, discovery, and connection.

Julia’s ongoing connection to food, and her eagerness to learn each food’s story and the stories of the people behind it, has fostered her connections with other humans as well. Many people she has spoken to crave an understanding of what they eat: They are eager to look beyond recipes to find stories, and to find connections to the past and to each other in the process.

Seeing how many people were eager to learn about the things that drove Julia’s passion (and consumed much of her headspace and free time), she founded Root as a way to provide new points of entry to the world of food for novice and expert alike.

nutella tart

She began Root with event and research consulting, classes, and a monthly membership. Root has since grown to include robust and innovative online courses, private fermentation coaching, spectacular events, creative work with filmmakers and other creatives, and more.

The goal in all of this work is to unlock the magic of the dishes we and our ancestors know and love. Whether it’s the transformation of sauerkraut by the microbes our bodies evolved alongside, or the older cousin to modern apple pie, the world of food is full of wonder and beautiful stories just waiting to be discovered.

However, no food story exists in a vacuum, just as each food item is inherently connected to its story and the world around it. Food is inherently communal, and eating inherently a community act, whether we’re relying on the farmers who grow our food, the drivers who transport it, or friends and family who cook and eat with us.

Most of all, it’s the significance of these food stories through history that impacts what and how we eat today, and how that varies between individuals and between communities large and small. Each of us has our own food stories and our own valuable perspectives to share, which is why Root isn’t just a one way street, preaching the magic of fermentation and food history to anyone who wants to learn. Root is an inherently collaborative endeavor, as each class and each project we undertake is an opportunity for everyone to learn from each other.

This means we’re expanding the history of food history to include everyone we can, and that includes you.

Skinner 9

Food, and food history, are central to everything we do: How we access our food, who we share it with, how we prepare it, and the stories we tell about it all shape our very bodies and our understanding of the world. At Root, we’re helping people locate their own food stories, and their place within the larger stories we all share.

As root grows, the vision of community building grows too. Root’s next stages include more online classes, to help novice and advanced cooks learn new skills wherever they are, whenever they want.

We’re also working on new events, sharing things that no one has done before in order to facilitate conversation, connection, and truly reveling in the complicated but necessary and joyful space of “breaking bread” at a time when it is sorely needed.

These include:
A weekend food waste and fermentation workshop with some of the best fermentation teachers in the country.
A class in using wild fermented foods to capture time and place, and using this to heal from grief as an individual and a community.
Responsive dinners: Creating menus that speak to time and place through ferments, forage, and more.

Of course, since Root is informed by so many different perspectives (and we work with so many amazing folks!) there are many more wonderful projects on the horizon, some actively in the works, and some beyond our wildest dreams (if you have an idea, we want to hear from you!)

In Atlanta, we are blessed with a diverse and dynamic food scene that we encounter like a food that hits every part of that palate: It activates the whole being, and has space for every sensation, experience, and taste you care to enjoy. Chefs and home cooks in this city are magic makers, and we at Root are here to help facilitate that magic.
Through fermentation classes and collaborations, we’re helping Atlantans unlock even more potential in their food through reducing food waste, building deep and nuanced flavors with ancient ingredients, and in so doing tapping into even deeper wells of food magic than they already do.

Eventually, Root will reach even farther by bringing food education and creative engagement through art and cooking to underserved communities, sharing the healing power of food, combined with art and storytelling, with the people who need it most.

It’s an exciting journey, and we’re glad you’re along for the ride.

If you’d like to work with us, please get in touch here!


Some testimonials:

“In the modern glut of recipes and cooking sites, Root not only offers delicious recipes and interesting historical knowledge – it constantly reminds me how integral cooking is to our sense of humanity. Everything – every era, every culture, every family – is defined by its own foods while we are connected as the cooking species. Root is more than recipes; it re-infuses the kitchen, the pantry, and the dinner table with meaning.” -Kimmy Coburn, The Homestead Atlanta

“Root demonstrates Julia Skinner’s ability to bring people together through her infectious enthusiasm about food. This merged with her ability to make food history relevant and accessible will bring people together over reimaginings of long-forgotten dishes.”-Katie Lapp, teacher and Root community member

“I’ve been a student in two of your classes (fermentation 101, mead making) and I wanted to share how much I have enjoyed them and meeting you! You’re very genuine. I like that you emphasize anyone can make food fermentations and meads, and even experiment with flavors and process, without it being an overwhelming experiment–no fancy equipment needed, no precise measuring or timing needed, no extensive knowledge required to start, etc. This vibe has lead me to get creative and daring with my fermentation projects when the research I had done prior to your class had me intimidating and afraid of ‘messing up’ or somehow poisoning myself/others. I’m grateful for the ferment empowerment, which I am also now sharing with friends and family. It’s a great feeling to be able to expand peoples’ minds when it comes to ferment safety, practicality/easiness, and taste adventure potential.” -Veronica, Atlanta