Last week, I had the opportunity to attend The Table is Set: A four-city tour served with a Coke event here in D.C., and guys: this was not your average dinner.
I’ve been to a lot of pop up dinners in my hometown where I’ve been served incredible food and enjoyed great company. However, this was an event hosted to benefit an incredible cause, and it sparked an honest conversation. Here are five reasons why the Soul Food Session’s tour should be on your list to attend!
Why You Need To Attend Soul Food Sessions Tour:
The Food is Incredible
First things first: I was blown away by the food at this event. We enjoyed a couple of passed appetizers before tasting our way through seven courses prepared by some of the most talented African-American chefs in the country.
The dishes were very inventive, and every course had a unique twist on traditional ingredients. For example, the signature dish for the D.C. event was a Crispy Seared Trout with a Five Pea Succotash, roasted garlic and thyme rice grits and micro collards — paired with a Coke. Tom and I loved this dish so much that we plan on recreating it at home.
Celebrating Black Excellence
I’m going to be completely honest here: as an African-American woman, often I feel like I’ve spent my whole life trying to disprove a negative stereotype. It was such an incredible experience to be surrounded by some of the most exceptional African-American culinary talents in the country, hear their stories, and celebrate something so positive.
Soul Food Sessions is a nonprofit that is committed to increasing opportunities for minority chefs throughout the food industry. What I love about this tour is that each dish was diverse, and each chef had their own special story. Chef Jennifer Hill Booker is a Georgia native who went to culinary school in Paris and was featured on the Food Network. We had the opportunity to meet Chef Jerome Grant, who is the inaugural executive chef of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. I could go on, but I think you catch my drift: we spent an evening with some major power players in the food industry.
Supporting A Great Cause
Soul Food Sessions took their mission to increase diversity in the culinary industry on the road thanks to a partnership with Coca-Cola Consolidated. Not only did we get to enjoy delicious food and mingle with some of the best chefs in the country, but we also supported a great cause as well.
A portion of all proceeds from ticket sales benefits a scholarship to help aspiring chefs achieve their goals. Soul Food Sessions and Coca-Cola Consolidated will grant at least $10,000 in scholarships to culinary students in 2018.
Having an Honest Conversation
Did you know that only 16% of chefs and head chefs are black, and only 9.5% of restaurant managers are black? I appreciate the fact that Soul Food Sessions is leading the conversation of achieving equal opportunity in the culinary field. While the atmosphere was lively at the event, the coasters on each table had a series of questions printed on them that sparked a conversation. Some were light-hearted and fun (ex. “What utensil would you be?”), while others prompted conversations about diversity and inclusion.
Mix and Mingle in a Fun Atmosphere
I’ve been to some pop-up dinners in the past that felt a little stuffy and pretentious here in D.C. That was not the case with The Table is Set tour! The atmosphere was lively, there was a D.J. spinning the best jams (if I weren’t so full, I would have jumped out of my seat to dance!), and the atmosphere was so relaxed, that I was able to chat and get to know nearly everyone sitting at my table. I feel like you don’t experience this type of atmosphere at most of the events held in D.C., so this was a refreshing change of pace!
The Table Is Set Tour is headed to Charleston this fall, but if you want to join the movement from another city, learn more here!
Photos by Tom McGovern
Thank you to Soul Food Sessions and Coca-Cola Consolidated for partnering with me on today’s post! All thoughts and opinions are my own.