Mar 26, 2022
What's up Cousins,

Spring has sprung around these parts. So ya'll know we getting ready to pull that barbecue grill out and get that uncle and his favorite sandals on the grill to start practicing that flick of the wrist for the summer cookouts (never too early to start practicing). 

We got some fire content to get you through the weekend.  Don't forget to hit us up in our inbox and let us know what you think. 

Stay Blessed.

The Cookout

Hercules Posey and The Unsung Black Chefs of America's Past 

You know how we always say American culture is Black culture? That saying reigns true with the story of America’s first “celebrity” chef, Hercules Posey. Chief chef Hercules Posey managed the kitchen for President George Washington, who enslaved him — not hired him — to work.
Posey was highly regarded in Mount Vernon and in Philadelphia, then the nation’s capital, for his Ramsay-like culinary precision. Even George Washington’s grandson couldn’t deny his talent! According to NPR, Washington’s namesake grandson, George Washington Parke Custis, remembered Posey as "highly accomplished and proficient in the culinary arts as could be found in the United States." What much less could he expect of Black excellence?
Posey was granted the backwards “privilege”— if we can call it that — to sell his leftovers on Philly’s streets, which earned him about $200, twice the average man’s working salary at that time. (Black people stay hustlin’)!
Much like Posey, Emmanuel Jones was another enslaved and magically skilled black chef who, like Posey, finessed his way through such a trying life and brutal circumstances. Jones, as the Smithsonian reports, “used his skills to transition out of enslavement into a successful career cooking in the food industry, evading the oppressive trappings of sharecropping.”
Mind you these are just the stories of two chefs. There are countless other nameless enslaved Africans who did what had to be done in the kitchen, carrying the South on their backs with watering taste buds. The worst part? They all moved throughout the kitchen with a proverbial (and maybe even literal) gun to their heads if they did anything offputting to the slave owners. Southern cuisine would be nothing without the flavor infused from trauma induced black hands. The heftier the trauma, the heavier the flavor. Ain’t that a b****?
For Posey, slaving in the presidential kitchen came with the lingering threat of his own slave status constantly looming was much to bear.  Any mistake made, and Washington threatened  to hurt Posey as he pleased, whether it was to beat, maim or murder.  If he were to displease Washington at any cost, according to Ramin Ganeshram of Zagat, “he readily sold off those who “offended” him to worse hardships in the Caribbean—in one case hanging the man’s dog for good measure.”
At a certain point, Posey had enough and was determined to find a way out of Washington’s brutal shackles. Though Washington went to great lengths to keep slaves from attaining freedom – (the man would bypass the Gradual Abolition Law of 1780 by re-setting Posey’s enslavement time) – Posey found a way. Remember all the money homie made off of his leftovers? Well, on Washington’s birthday, he used that to help him escape from Mount Vernon, like a real G.
Luckily, when Posey escaped, he could not be found by Washington’s hounds. However, while he was able to obtain freedom and hoped to free his family by the time Washington passed, unfortunately, his family was not freed, due to their “dower” slave status.
Because so many of our esteemed and enslaved chefs went nameless, there isn’t much record of what they left.  However, the traditions passed down from person to person are all in the recipes that we utilize to this day. Kelly Fantzo of the Smithsonian however, “relied on archaeological evidence and material culture—the rooms where they once lived, the heavy cast iron pots they lugged around, the gardens they planted—and documents such as slaveholders’ letters, cookbooks, and plantation records to learn about their experiences. These remnants, scant though they are, make it clear that enslaved cooks were central players in the birth of our nation’s cultural heritage,” she said.
What remains of Posey and Emmanuel’s legacy is not only their culinary greatness, but their inventiveness, resilience, finesse and hustler nature that runs through our cultural fabric to this very day. Let's take a moment to acknowledge our many legends (both named and nameless) who fought to live and made a silver lining out of any scraps or leftovers given. 

10 Black Restaurants to Get to Neeooow: East Coast Edition 

When are we not looking for the next Black-owned food spot to try? We’ve listed some of our East Coast favorites that may not be showing up on your TikTok FYP. You’ll find that there are some “southern” eateries included, but rest assured that Florida and Georgia are still technically on the east side of the map ya’ll! C’mon now, we went to school! Sorry West Coasters, much love to y’all, but this is the East Coast edition of our Black-owned restaurant roundup for the week.

Harlem Hookah | Harlem, NY 

If you’re looking for a lil somethin’ more than a meal, look no further than Harlem Hookah. The Black-woman owned spot is the older, more sophisticated version of your small-town hookah joint. The luxurious interiors and feel-good menu (say, sliders and funnel fries) is the perfect combination for a sophisticated, yet lighthearted night out.

South Jazz Kitchen | Philadelphia, PA 

Philly is well-known to have a good jazz bar. While there are many to choose from, South Jazz Kitchen has cemented itself in its sixth year as an upscale Southern food bar located in Spring Garden. Nothing is more comforting  than shrimp and grits with live feel-good music. Actually, it’s Black-owned. That’s even better.

Soul Baila | Hartford, CT 

Perfect for a classy night out, this “no sweatshirts,no house slippers” coded soul restaurant is it! This is ain’t  no place for scrubs. The grub, however, includes mac and cheese and well-seasoned seafood.

Teavolve Cafe | Baltimore, MD 

Looking for a little daytime clas? Teavolve Cafe brings in worldly-inspired teas, from Marsala Chai to Himalayan Green Tea. By the way, if ya pinky not up while you sip…is it even real?

Cane | Washington DC 

Cane concocts Caribbean street food– but for fine dining. One look at their Instagram and you can tell the love and care that’s infused in both the flavor and  presentation. We love to see it! And even more, we love to eat it!

ZAZ Restaurant | Hyde Park, MA 

Enjoy the hearty cuisine of Caribbean, Latin, and Asian fusion all created by renowned Chef Olrie. You truly won’t be able to find Jerk Salmon Hush Puppies anywhere else.

The Weekend Spot | Newark, NJ 

Ever thought to blend Soul Food and Puerto Rican-style cooking? Listen, it’s a dream to find lemon pepper wings and smothered chicken in one place. The Weekend Spot does it right.

Irie Diner | Orange Park, Florida

Irie Diner pulls inspiration from Spanish, English, African, East Indian, and French tastes. Global cuisine cheffed up by Black folk? Absolutely. If you love trying new foods and crave novel culinary experiences, this is the place for you.

Just Add Honey | Atlanta, GA

If you aren’t in Baltimore to hit up Teavolve, then Just Add Honey got you in Atlanta. Another phenomenally Black-owned tea shop serving up hot drinks for your perfect zen. Check out their Instagram for weekly “Ten Tips,” giving you “the tea” on all of Just Add Honey’s blends.

Boricua Soul | Durham, NC

Boricua Soul cares about authenticity. And that’s what we’re all about! The restaurant’s owners are transparent about their backgrounds influence the delicious dishes available at Boricua Soul for everyone’s enjoyment.

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