This month, as we come together to celebrate the contributions of black Americans, a group of Austinites is reflecting on how black chefs have shaped the nation's culinary history.
On February 20, that heritage will be on display at the second annual Taste of Black Austin, an event which usess its theme, “From Field to Table,” as a call for diners to reflect on the legacy of black American food culture, a legacy which contains both incredible triumph and deep hardship. The chefs represented at the event have taken their creative cues from historical recipe books, menus, and their own personal experiences with dishes that represent African, Caribbean, and American Southern foodways.
Presented by the Greater Austin Black Chamber of Commerce, the event will trace an historical narrative of black food traditions and entrepreneurship. Conversations at the event will be led by black farmers and local food industry professionals around topics of agriculture, sustainability, and economic parity.
“We are tracing our roots from the framework of the the ground to the end product being the table,” said GABC president and CEO Tam Hawkins in a release. “GABC is exploring the ways in which Black Americans influence every part of the food industry from all scopes that drive consumer demand.”
Among the eleven culinary professionals designing the menu for the event are Joi Chevalier, founder of the food and tech incubator, The Cook’s Nook; Harvey Merida, whose Lavelle’s Catering has been serving Austin since 1995; Nahika Hillery, owner of the Haitian Caribbean restaurant, Kreyol Korner Caribbean Cuisine; Demmerick Johnson, the chef behind Ladybird’s Austin Kitchen; and Hoover Alexander, owner of comfort food mecca, Hoover’s Cooking.
Taste of Black Austin takes place from 6-9 pm at the Peached Social House (6500 N. Lamar Blvd.). In addition to the reception — which will feature small plates created to chronicle black history from slavery to the present day — there will also be a curated photo exhibition showcasing scenes from black food history. Tickets are available online.