The visionary and co-founder of Folk Detroit, Rohani Foulkes is a passionate culinarian and entrepreneur with Indigenous lineage hailing from Cairns, Australia.
With a career spanning three decades in the food industry, Rohani has an unwavering dedication to creating a sense of community through food. Folk, an artisanal café and specialty market located in Corktown, focuses on ethically sourced, seasonal, made-from-scratch comfort foods, coffee, and biodynamic wines.
Rohani’s love for food began with a trade apprenticeship in culinary arts, which led her to work as a professional chef for over 10 years in renowned restaurants, hotels, and island resorts along the East Coast of Australia. Her passion for food and education merged when she earned her Master’s Degree in International Education at the University of Sydney. Rohani then worked in community development and food empowerment with various non-profits in Australia and the United States.
Folk’s story begins with the humble tomato. Rohani’s difficulty sourcing fresh, local tomatoes in Detroit inspired her to develop the concept of The Farmer’s Hand, a farm stand that provided locally sourced produce to Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood. This concept eventually evolved into what is now Folk Market and Café.
In an interview with Slice Ann Arbor, Rohani shared her philosophy behind her business: “To remain committed to providing an accessible and convenient venue for our partners and customers to local products, health and wellness education, and a heightened sense of connectedness to their food source, as well as to each other, and to always do this with integrity and authenticity.”
As a pioneer of the no-tip movement in Detroit, Rohani is dedicated to creating a fair and equitable work environment. Rohani’s commitment to her staff is evident in Folk’s offerings of parental leave, fair starting wages, and inclusion and equity training. As a result, in 2019 Folk was named one of Food & Wine’s 19 Great Restaurants to Work For.
With Folk Detroit, Rohani has crafted a warm and welcoming space that celebrates the power of food to bring people together. As she continues to break new ground in the culinary world, Rohani remains true to her roots and the lessons learned from her mother and grandmother.
“Food is at the core of community in my mother’s culture,” she says. “For me, it is a connection to community that I can use to show and share with anyone, anywhere in the world.”
Follow Rohani Foulkes on Instagram @rohani.foulkes and Folk Detroit @folkdetroit.