Tylynn Burns (@tytytooofly) has a storied history with Juneteenth. The creative entrepreneur hails from Bastrop, Texas which has honored the holiday for generations, and currently lives in Los Angeles, where her events agency (@housepartycreative) produces a full weekend of parties celebrating Juneteenth. Here, she shares some favorite memories — from attending her annual family reunion BBQ in Texas to finally mastering the art of the oxtail. (Tip: Use enough water!) When Tylynn isn’t traveling home to celebrate with her family, she gets together with her chosen fam to mark the holiday in style. This year, Tylynn gathered some friends together in Bruce’s Beach — a Black Los Angeles landmark that, after nearly 100 years of city seizure, was returned to the descendants of the original owners in 2021. While Tylynn loves to cook for Juneteenth, this gathering was made complete with the mouth-watering food from (abeautifullife) Jamaican Kitchen — enjoyed picnic style, of course.
How does your culture influence your home cooking?
There are a lot of customs that come from Black cooking, from the kind of pots and pans you use, to very brand-specific ingredients, to the ancestor-influenced measuring.
How do you celebrate Juneteenth? What does Juneteenth represent and mean to you?
My agency that I founded in 2018 (@housepartycreative) produces a ton of programming during Juneteenth weekend in L.A. From galas to day parties, we always find a way to bring the city together. Before then, I’d always go to Texas for my family reunion during Juneteenth. My family on my mom’s side is from a small town called Bastrop and the history of Juneteenth runs deep there.
What are some of your go-to dishes that you have fond memories of preparing?
The first time I made smothered oxtails seemed like a big deal to me and my family! Oxtails are kind of considered a delicacy — not only in Black-American culture, but African and Caribbean cultures as well. Black-Americans cook them a little differently; the smothered gravy is a soul food staple. I made my first batch for Easter a few years back and now my family always has me make them.
Do you have any memorable or funny kitchen fails or stories?
You have to cover the oxtails with enough water so it doesn’t completely evaporate over the 5 – 6 hour cooking span. I didn’t do that one time and I pulled out the oxtails and all of the water was gone and the oxtails were literally burning in my dutch oven. I was so embarrassed.
Is there a dish that immediately makes you think of Juneteenth? What memory does it hold?
It’s really BBQ. My family would always fry a ton of fish and we’d get a lot of BBQ and eat everything with a slice of bread, some baked beans, and potato salad.
Juneteenth is about liberation and Black joy? What aspect of the holiday fills you with the most joy?
Being able to put together experiences that bring us closer and remind us to be proud of our heritage and our modern-day accomplishments.