Cookout season is here! We hope y'all gearing up for a season of barbecuing, spades, dancing and some time well spent with your folks. We hyped!
Remember to pace yourselves. You got a lot of summer ahead of you.
Que’ it Up: 10 Summer Cookout Must-Haves
First things first, a cookout isn’t a cookout without a base-thumping, shouting soprano, Gap Band-inspired playlist. Your favorite uncle’s smoked meats and aunty’s mac n cheese are critical, but something about funky, soulful music just makes the food hit different. After you make your way down the soul train line or record a viral TikTok dance, you oughta’ secure a plate with these Summer cookout must-haves!
Baby Back Ribs
One of the most beautiful aspects of Black culture is the innate gift of turning scraps into a masterpiece. Baby back ribs weren’t considered a delicacy, but thanks to pitmasters in the antebellum South, they now are renowned as a cookout essential.
If you don’t have any chicken on the grill, oh no baby, what iz you doin’? Whether it’s seasoned with Caribbean jerk flavors, sweet and tangy barbecue, or grandma’s spice blend, grilled chicken is mandatory. Just be sure not to upset the ancestors by burning the chicken!
This one is for vegetarians and meat-lovers alike. A cold side of potato salad is a must-have to balance the heat of the smoked meats and spices crowding your plate. This dish originated in Germany and traveled to the U.S. in the early 19th century where southern cooks put their spin on it, adding ingredients like mustard, onion and boiled eggs.
Black folks down South refer to pop or soda as a “cold drink,” which is any non-alcoholic beverage. Don’t get it twisted, a chilled glass of Hennessy is nice too, but even if you take it no-chaser, a cold drink on the side is a cookout must-have.
Peach cobbler, pound cake, cherry pie – they’re all welcomed to the cookout! Just make sure it’s prepared with love and not bought from the neighborhood supermarket, or you will be clowned.
Cajun, baked or smoked red beans are all cookout classics. It takes some time to cook, but the juicy texture and smoky flavors are worth the wait.
The term “deviled” eggs originated in the 1800s to describe the use of spices. Deviled eggs with bbq seasoning are an irresistible addition to a cookout.
“You need something green on ya plate” is a Black cookout proverb. If an elder doesn’t see any vegetables on your plate, you won’t hear the end of it. Collard greens can be smoked or prepared on the stove, but remember: nobody wants watery greens!
Mac n Cheese
Mac n cheese is another essential palette cleanser. Some cooks add a scoop of dijon mustard to give it a summertime kick.
Cornbread or Biscuits
A buttery piece of cornbread or biscuit makes the perfect assist to wipe up any leftover sauces from your plate of food.
Barbecue is a vital cuisine to Black history, bridging flavors and techniques from the South and the Caribbeans to create the menu for a cookout. But, the most important aspect of the cookout is the hands that prepare the food, the people playing card games, the kids running in the yard – the people make the cookout truly special.
Yesterday’s Price is NOT Today’s Price: Pinky Cole's Slutty Vegan Raises $25M
Black-owned fast-casual restaurants like Pinky Cole’s Slutty Vegan and Chef JJ Johnson’s Field Trip, are turning up the heat in the modern eatery scene, helping to increase the visibility of these food spaces with their innovative cuisine and all-star team of funders. Cole recently secured a major bag – $25 million to be exact – through a round of Series A funding which will help grow her vegan burger franchise across the U.S. as she plans to expand to Brooklyn, Harlem, Birmingham, Alabama, Columbus, Georgia, Athens, Georgia, and other hot-spot locations.
The funding round was led by serial entrepreneur Richelieu Dennis’ New Voices Fund, which supports women of color businesses, and Danny Meyer’s Enlightened Hospitality Investments, a strategic growth equity firm. With the increase of capital and expertise of these funders, Cole is positioned one step closer to her goal of making the Slutty Vegan “a billion-dollar brand” while promoting food sustainability.
If you didn’t know, now you know: plant-based diets are more than a trend, they are less taxing on the environment and fight against diseases that disproportionately impact the Black community, like heart disease and diabetes. Slutty Vegan offers hella’ vegan junk food, including the brands Mango Margarita and Piña Colada CBD gummies, without the guilt and health risks associated with GMO ingredients. Innovation and originality no doubt brought investors like Meyers to the table, ready to cut a check for one of the nation's most “Instagrammable” restaurants.
The success of Slutty Vegan proves there is space for Black-owned fast-casual restaurants not only to exist, but to thrive. Earlier this year, PepsiCo and Multicultural Foodservice & Hospitality Alliance collaborated to develop Pathways to Black Franchise Ownership, aiming to support the creation of 100 Black-owned franchise restaurants by the end of 2023. Initiatives like Pathways are makin’ it rain. With a $2.5 million grant on the table, sky’s the limit for Black-owned food brands and restaurants are on the come up.
Last winter, James Beard award-winning chef, Chef JJ Johnson, teamed up with Founders Table and Pendulum for a new round of Series A funding to expand his restaurant. Johnson is a James Beard Award winner and Nation’s Restaurant News 2021 Power List recipient, showcasing Caribbean-forward rice bowls throughout New York City. They say money talks, and in this case, the undisclosed amount of funds raised for Fieldtrip will not only birth new locations, but also put more pressure on the restaurant industry and investors to diversify.
Additionally, members of arguably the most lit rap group to perform for Swizz Beatz and Timbaland’s Verzuz battle, Styles P and Jadakiss of The LOX, are real-life hood healers, using food to restore the Black community with their New York-based juice bar and clean-eating kitchen, Juices for Life. It takes money to make money, but it takes a visionary to change the game. These fast-casual food joints are just the tip of the iceberg for the next generation of Black restaurateurs.