Making Gumbo Jubilee: Triumph of Howard Conyers

Nationally acclaimed BBQ Pit Master Howard Conyers wanted cook something special for his Gumbo Jubilee celebration. So, he challenged himself to slow-roast the largest animal he had ever prepared—an entire cow. Luckily, this 3rd generation pit master is also an engineer and NASA rocket scientist…
‘Making Gumbo Jubilee’ is a rousing, short-documentary (10min :37 secs) that chronicles the final 24-hours of preparation by Dr. Howard Conyers. In the film, he draws inspiration from over three centuries of culinary history and uses his unique blend of cooking and engineering prowess to keep the flames of African American pit master traditions alive. Many notable African-American chefs, culinary historians and food bloggers traveled from across the country to witness his demonstration and share a dish at this community-wide celebration of African American culinary and musical heritage.
The event was held on Saturday, October 20th, 2018, as a part of the 300th commemoration of the city of New Orleans.
Dr. Howard Conyers, is a South Carolina native and host of current PBS Digital series ‘Nourish’(2018).

  • Paul Grant
    Tangy's Song! (2004) ; The Gospel of Healing Vol I: Black Churches Respond to HIV/AIDS (2012)
  • Paul Grant
    Tangy's Song! (2004) ; The Gospel of Healing Vol I: Black Churches Respond to HIV/AIDS (2012)
  • Tracey A Middleton Grant
    The Gospel of Healing Vol I: Black Churches Respond to HIV/AIDS (2012)
  • Jackson Clay
    Online Editor
  • Howard Conyers
    Key Cast
    Nourish (PBS Digital Series)
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Short
  • Runtime:
    10 minutes 42 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    March 1, 2019
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital 35mm
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
    Black & White and Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Paul Grant

Paul Grant is a filmmaker, Motion Designer and also a Senior Producer and Chief Creative Officer of Ascender Communications, Inc., a digital advertising and media production company, based in Washington, DC.

He established Ascender Communications, Inc. in 2005 as a result of being awarded $25,000 film production grant from Kaiser Family Foundation and The Black AIDS Institute to produce the documentary film ‘Tangy’s Song!,’ for Black Entertainment Television’s (B.E.T.) national ‘RAP-IT-UP’ HIV/AIDS awareness campaign (2004). The following year, he returned as a consultant to the network as a producer of the one-hour, special primetime drama, ‘Multitude of Mercies’ (2005) and again in 2006, as a judge for the national ‘Black AIDS Short-Subject
(BASS/RIU) Film Competition.’

Since then, Mr. Grant has worked internationally and nationally, producing award-winning motion-based content-including PSAs, commercials, and short films for advocacy groups, foundations, museum exhibitions, and federal social awareness campaigns.

Mr. Grant began his career in 1995 as a photojournalist for the Richmond Free Press newspaper. In 1997, he followed his heart into television production working with New
Millennium Studios, the first full-service film and video production studio in Virginia owned by veteran actors Tim and Daphne Reid. His career as an independent filmmaker and television producer began as a result of his work as a production assistant on several feature films, national television commercials and the first season of the critically acclaimed Showtime network series ‘Linc’s’ (1998).

His first feature-length documentary, ‘The Gospel of Healing: Volume I: Black Churches Respond to HIV/AIDS’ premiered at the 2012 International AIDS Conference, held in Washington, DC. It has since screened in more than 40 cities and earned a distinguished award from the American
Public Health Association (2012).

Paul Grant studied filmmaking and graphic design at Virginia Commonwealth University, School of Visual Arts in Richmond, VA.

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Director Statement

I first fell in love with filmmaking in 1981. I was a pudgy, seven-year-old growing up on a farm in rural South Carolina. My older siblings often took me to see the latest summer blockbusters and I had all the corresponding toys. I also lost lots of time during hot summer days going to the run-down dollar movie theater next to my father’s job in the city, 45 minutes away from where we lived. However, it was a television documentary that really hooked me.

When “The Making of Raiders of the Lost Ark” premiered on our local PBS station, I laid on the floor in front of the television mesmerized. The whole world seemed to unfold in front of my eyes--there was travel, adventure, and exotic locations. There were large cameras on high cranes in the desert, flanked by a technical film crew of legions below and the execution of all of my favorite stunts and action sequences were described in great detail. I looked at the bearded director playfully staging each sequence and knew I had been doing the same thing with my action figures. So, I turned to my older sister and said, ‘That’s what I want to be when I grow up.’ She was amused at my statement but then that I should look closer at who was doing the work. “Little black boys don’t grow up to do that kind of work. You might want to think about something more practical.” I can’t remember if she offered more of an explanation. But I remember looking back at the screen and feeling, the first time, wholly separated from the movie magic that those men were allowed to create.

I was in high school when black filmmakers like Spike Lee proclaimed a new era of access for independent filmmakers of color. Their success gave me courage to reclaim my childhood dream. By that time, I was showing great promise doing still photography, even winning regional awards. I held true to that dream through college-where I was deeply moved by the work of designer and filmmaker Saul Bass, Ridley Scott, and documentarian Ken Burns. My passions were further ignited when I found work as production assistant working on countless commercials, documentaries, indie films and a cable television series produced by veteran actors Tim and Daphne Reid, at their studio outside of Richmond, Virginia. Through years of odd jobs, financially thick and thin times, that singular star guided me true north, until I was able to make my first film in 2004 for BET. I am forever grateful for all of the lessons and inspiration.

For the past 15 years since, I have left my home each morning to work at my own production company in Washington, DC. Corporate videos, commercials and documentaries and a lot of sheer determination and good fortune have allowed me to experience production adventures of my own across the U.S. Even on the eastern shores of Africa. Digital capture has hastened the tide of opportunity, learning and self-promotion. My wife and business partner actively reinvest a percentage of revenues from our client work into telling original unscripted stories about people of color that we believe are missing from our cultural landscape, particularly in the areas of history, health, religion, and African-heritage cooking/foodways.

“Making Gumbo Jubilee: Triumph of Howard Conyers” is our first foray into telling stories about African American foodways. In this short-film, Dr. Howard Conyers, another native South Carolinian and host of the PBS Digital series “Nourish” (2018 Season), pays homage to centuries of black pit master tradition. This NASA rocket scientist demonstrates both his engineering prowess and culinary mastery by slow-roasting an entire cow for about 40 prominent African American chefs and food writers. His passion for preserving and sharing this rich culinary history is an undeniable muse that guides him throughout the arduous 21-hour process which he has pledged never to do again. We are honored to have been invited to witness and share this amazing event and hope that it brings greater interest to the significant African American contributions to American cuisine.