It’s an unfortunate story, but one that needs to be told.”
May 17, 2019 10:16 AM   Subscribe

"...on Monday evening, at Mr. Colicchio’s restaurant Craft in Manhattan, Mr. Adjepong presented the full menu: “The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Through Food,” a dinner that zigzags across the Atlantic Ocean, retracing the forced migration of enslaved Africans and illuminating the deep and lasting global culinary influences of the continent." A Chef Tells the Story of the Slave Trade Through Dinner
posted by everybody had matching towels (22 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite

What a meal that sounds like! And good on Tom Colicchio for highlighting Chef Adjepong after the show. I found the same issue with "The Final Table," where they "celebrated" food from around the world, but everybody but a whole lot of dudes (mostly white, mostly from English-speaking countries) was eliminated by the final.
posted by xingcat at 10:23 AM on May 17 [3 favorites]

Oh lovely. I thought it was sad he got eliminated. I at least wanted to see his whole menu on the show.
posted by kanata at 10:41 AM on May 17 [1 favorite]

This makes me so happy! I rooted for Eric over the whole of last season. At the finale, I thought his menu had the most interesting story.
posted by CatastropheWaitress at 10:48 AM on May 17 [2 favorites]

That's an incredibly interesting meal, and I'm really glad Colicchio had the sense to invite him to present it in its entirety.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:52 AM on May 17 [3 favorites]

Nice to see someone like Tom Colicchio using his privilege to amplify diverse culinary voices; I was really disappointed that we didn't get to see Chef Adjepong's full menu on Top Chef, too, and am glad we're at least getting to read about it here! I got full-body chills when he introduced his menu on the show and thought this was a compelling point: "He lost to two white Southern chefs, which he found ironic: “Their story is rooted in West Africa, too,” he said, “just in a different way.”
posted by stellaluna at 10:55 AM on May 17 [9 favorites]

For whatever reason, I always lose interest in Top Chef around the time that it gets below 4 or 5 contestants, so I didn't get to the end of this last season (even though I quite liked it - I thought they did a pretty good job finding interesting things to highlight in Kentucky). I do appreciate how the show takes its contestants seriously as chefs, and can really elevate the profile of not just the winners but everyone involved.

That meal looks intriguing, will be curious to follow his career.
posted by vunder at 10:57 AM on May 17

I hope the way this went down this season convinces the producers not to eliminate someone mid-finale this way ever again, when they’re cooking their most personal set of dishes. It ends up seeming dismissive of the person and his or her story, not just the food. I liked all three finalists but was so curious to taste Chef Adjepong’s food because it was new to me!

I followed Tom on twitter back when I had it, and he seems like a genuinely good guy.
posted by sallybrown at 10:59 AM on May 17 [2 favorites]

Related plug: The Cooking Gene, a really good personal narrative of the culinary influence of West Africa on southern cooking via the slave trade.
posted by Think_Long at 11:09 AM on May 17 [2 favorites]

Ive been following Chef Omar Tate and his Honeysuckle Popup for a bit - hes obviously nowhere near the profile of Adjepong but its no less fascinating.

Its funny bc a few days before this article came out i was browsing and looking at tickets to a different pop up and i guess im stuck in the middle of finding this stuff just before it blows up big time but also not having $175 floating around for dinners hosted at Colicchio restaurants.

i agree TC seems like a good older white dude, although i am curious what the next step is beyond offering his spaces/name to get guys like Adam and Omar visibility. In the Bay Area fine dining chef Danielle Patterson and his Alta restaurant group have been "partnering" (that word gives me 21st C willies) with a number of up-and coming chefs of color and its not clear at all how that is going (one of the concepts just announced that it was continuing without the involvement of Alta, another just announced it was closing).
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 11:10 AM on May 17

Why I come to metafilter. thank you.
posted by hugbucket at 11:18 AM on May 17 [1 favorite]

Btw, in New York, you also want to try Chef Pierre Thiam's place
posted by hugbucket at 11:22 AM on May 17

disclaimer: I met him once at a conference two years ago and found him a sober thoughtful and gentle man. I began to follow his career on Twitter.
posted by hugbucket at 11:23 AM on May 17 [2 favorites]

Food and Wine also has an interview, descriptions, and pictures.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:29 AM on May 17 [4 favorites]

I have to say, having watched Top Chef since the start and having been to a few restaurants from former contestants, Eric is the one that I'd be tempted to make a special trip just to try -- which makes it a total bummer that he hasn't actually opened a restaurant. Not that I fault him, I get that the industry is tough and he's probably trying to figure out the right way to do it, but man am I hoping he gets to it at some point because his food looks fascinating.
posted by tocts at 11:33 AM on May 17

its probably also worth noting in this context that the last time a young black man came out of top chef with a buzz -Kwame -he faced some pretty serious commercial setbacks while he navigated the space between his culinary aesthetic and the marketplace for fine dining. He famously opened and quickly shuttered a top-dollar tasting menu spot within 3 months of opening, but a couple years later is riding a wave including a James Beard Award and successful memoir release.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 11:40 AM on May 17 [3 favorites]

God I wish I'd been at that dinner.
posted by aramaic at 12:00 PM on May 17

And just in time, a favorite Black food writer Justin Phillips with this in the SF Chronicle: Why Kwame Onwauchi is the Most Important Chef in America
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 1:29 PM on May 17

I really liked Adjepong too and and was sad he got cut short this final meal. Neat to read how it actually came out! Also jealous, it sounds delicious. Such an interesting melange of things, from pure original African flavors through the Caribbean and the South. It's a lot of food traditions and history and he's brave to try to put it all in one meal.
This was the first in a series of dinners at Craft highlighting chefs with strong culinary voices who do not have brick-and-mortar restaurant spaces.
I'm a little skeptical of these chefs who seem more about celebrity than running a working restaurant business. I get that the exciting part of being an inventive chef is the creation of recipes and menus, the joy of producing one idea to perfection. Without the grind of keeping on a staff of line cooks who can prep 300 covers a night, and dealing with grocery delivery and rent and all that crap. But that's part of what the cooking business is about too. And at the very high end you get to do both, at least for a few years.

Colicchio seems like a genuinely decent person. In the middle of the Me Too movement he stood up and spoke very clearly for the need for other men to stop treating women like shit in the cooking busiiness. I mean that's a minimum standard of decency but he met it and has used his platform to elevate it. (More personally, I really enjoyed the couple of meals I've had at his restaurant Craft. Simple but excellently prepared.)
posted by Nelson at 2:39 PM on May 17

He'd already gotten an opportunity to cook the meal... I'm glad other folks got to taste it besides the Food staff at WaPo, but it seemed odd that the NYT didn't mention it...
posted by jburka at 3:59 PM on May 17

I want all those things!
posted by jwest at 6:54 PM on May 17

For whatever reason, I always lose interest in Top Chef around the time that it gets below 4 or 5 contestants, so I didn't get to the end of this last season (even though I quite liked it - I thought they did a pretty good job finding interesting things to highlight in Kentucky). I do appreciate how the show takes its contestants seriously as chefs, and can really elevate the profile of not just the winners but everyone involved.

I worked on the camera and sound crew for the first season of "The Next Food Network Star" which taught me a million things about cooking, tv production, what celebrities are really like (Marc Summers and Rachel Ray are both legitimately very nice and thoughtful*) but the toughest thing for me was seeing chefs eliminated.

Harmony was the first one out in our show, which was very humiliating for her, talking to her at the finale party, and that sucked, because she's a crazy-good cook. Eddie lasted a lot longer, but his "get mean with your food" schtick made no sense to the judges, because Eddie was too obviously nice. The most technically proficient and brilliant chef fell out late because he didn't have enough charisma, which I get, but that still sucks. It was rough.

*Marc Summers made a point of always eating break-lunches with the crew and learning as much about us as possible. Rachel Ray wasn't involved with the show but sent her on-show food over to the remaining camera crew as we were breaking down because, well, because that was a kind thing to do.

But if these shows can raise the profiles of these chefs, and present cooking as an art form that can do more than just stuff our faces, good.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:27 PM on May 17 [4 favorites]

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