James Beard Foundation’s Platform Celebrates Black Culinary Excellence


Platform, the new diversity-minded James Beard Foundation event space at New York City’s Pier 57, has gotten off to a rollicking start with guest chefs including Marcus Samuelsson, Chintan Pandya, Kwame Onwuachi, Cristina Martinez, Dawn Burrell, Brandon Jew and many other superstars. Platform is a space for pop-ups that celebrate history and heritage while providing a fresh take on the future in a collaborative, camaraderie-filled space. It’s a mission-driven venture that’s about what American food culture was, is and can be.

So in August, Platform (which includes a show kitchen and an educational hub for culinary-arts programming) will dedicate itself to showcasing Black Business Month. Chefs cooking at Platform in August will include John Cleveland from South Los Angeles mainstay Post and Beam, Ricky Moore from North Carolina’s Saltbox Seafood Joint, Shenarri Freeman from plant-based destination Cadence in New York and the new vegan Ubuntu in Los Angeles, and Maya-Camille Broussard from Chicago’s Justice of the Pies and Netflix series Bake Squad. This is all part of a partnership between Platform and Pepsi Dig In, an initiative that supports Black-owned restaurants.

The special guest-chef series starts August 3 with Cleveland presenting a historical “African-American heritage dinner” inspired by recipes from pioneering chef Malinda Russell. (In 1866, Russell self-published A Domestic Cookbook, the first known cookbook by a Black woman). Dishes will include catfish fricassee and a pickled crown roast with mac-and-cheese, smoked potatoes and cabbage.

On August 10, Moore will serve a family-style meal with dishes, including peel-and-eat shrimp and smothered oysters with shellfish grits, that signify milestones in the history of Saltbox Seafood. The dinner will be paired with beverages from North Carolina’s Fullsteam Brewery, RayLen Vineyards and Conniption Gin.

On August 15, Freeman, fresh off opening West Africa-inspired plant-based restaurant Ubuntu on LA’s Melrose Avenue, will collaborate with chef Nana Araba Wilmot to merge West African cooking with soul food. The menu will features dishes like masa-fermented rice cakes with suya honey and a collard greens wrap.

On August 24, Broussard will cook alongside Top Chef runner-up Adrienne Cheatham and Hav & Mar’s Fariyal Abdullahi for the “It Takes a Village” dinner with dishes including crab-stuffed squash blossoms, seafood pot pie and cucumber, mango, chili and yuzu pie

Plus, Cleveland will also host an August 4 cocktail party and an August 6 brunch at Platform. Moore will break down a bonefish for an August 8 cooking demo/conversation and then collaborate with other North Carolina chefs at an August 11 fish fry. Freeman will be part of an August 14 panel discussion about being a Black woman in the restaurant industry. Broussard will have an August 23 book signing, talk and tasting. The full calendar and tickets for all events are available online.

Platform is part of the 16,000-square-foot Market 57 food hall that’s part of the massive revamp of Hudson River Park’s Pier 57. In addition to Platform, the James Beard Foundation has its Good to Go kiosk at Market 57. Good to Go is an incubator for quick-service concepts, and its current menu includes dishes and desserts from chefs Olushola Wadley (suya-spiced shiitake baos), Nicole Merino (huitlacoche quesadilla), Theodore Coleman (berbere-spiced lamb loin), Sofia Mendoza (corn-roasted poblano salad), Jacqueline Tris (tres leches) and Mimi Chen (Vietnamese coffee Rice Krispie treat).

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