Celebrating game-changing chefs this Black History Month

February 16, 2018 | United States

Uber Eats sat down with standout chefs across the country who are breaking barriers and bringing communities amazing cuisine in the process. Here, we share a few of their stories and what Black History Month means to them.

Sharing the roots of comfort food in New York City


Edward Brumfield, executive chef at Marcus Samuelsson's famed Red Rooster Harlem in New York City, explains why Black History Month is particularly moving for him as a chef. “Black History Month gives historical context to what we do,” he told Uber Eats. “It gives us a chance to pause and think about the story behind foods we often eat and are celebrated as ‘American food,’ but most people don't understand the origin. For me, African Americans were the pioneers of what we’ve come to know as comfort food.” Brumfield adds that chefs play a huge role in fostering cultural understanding. “…We have the ability to introduce culture to our guests. Through food, people can experience new flavors and learn about a cuisine and the culture that surrounds it,” he said. Read more about Brumfield’s story and order yourself some shrimp n’ grits from Red Rooster, stat!

Changing Chicago one rib at a time


When it comes to rib tips, Bro-N-Law's Bar-B-Q founder Kenneth Johnson and his crew are the masters. “Hearing the cooks in the back chopping them up…that’s Chicago tradition right there!” the Chicago native told Uber Eats. Johnson has 20 years of experience under his belt and devoted customers who keep coming back for more. Growing up in a food desert, Johnson started his restaurant as a way to give back to the community. “Some people saw despair, but I saw opportunity. We wanted our people to have a nice place to go to, sit down, and eat at,” said Johnson. Read more about how Johnson and Bro-N-Laws Bar-B-Q are helping transform his neighborhood.

Long live Mo Better’s Los Angeles legacy


In times of triumph and times of tribulation, Mo Better Burgers has been a rock for the City of Angels, serving up burgers and fries fit for the stars. Founders Tami Bennett and Eve Fouche are proud of the role the restaurant has played for the city’s African American community, providing a safe space when few others would. “During the [L.A.] riots, there was a point where there weren’t a lot of places where a lot of Black folks could really go…I remember a lot of Black folks coming over to our place asking what’s the word, what’s the news,” Fouche recalled. The best thing about Mo Better (besides the beef, of course)? It might just become the place where everybody knows your name.

She brings a world of vegan flavor to Seattle


Don’t you dare disparage tofu in front of Seattle chef and restaurateur Makini Howell, who regularly makes meat lovers experience epiphanies about how tasty plants can be. She’s the brains behind Plum Bistro and its siblings Plum Chop’t, Sugar Plum, Plum Pantry and the Plum Bistro food truck – all vegan, and all full of crave-worthy dishes. “I wanted a place like this that I could go to because I was raised vegan, and everywhere that you went was like a hole in the wall,” Howell told Uber Eats. “There was no place that was really nice, that didn’t hit you over the head with being vegan.” Howell, who introduces eaters to a world of flavors, says she’s incredibly proud of what she’s been able to build in the Seattle community over the last 10 years. “I am a woman -- and I am a Black woman. It is really hard to run a restaurant and I have done it super successfully,” she said. Read more about how Howell’s delicious plant-based cuisine even wooed the likes of Stevie Wonder, with whom she ended up touring.

Paying homage to mom through dessert in Dallas


Val Jean-Bart of Val’s Cheesecakes in Dallas creates cheesecakes beyond your wildest imagination. It all started as a beautiful bond between him and his mom, who was battling terminal breast cancer. “My mom was born and raised in Haiti. She moved to New York in 1966 and got work at a Jewish bakery, where she was serving cheesecakes. As a young girl at 21, she fell in love with cheesecake,” Jean-Bart said. “It was natural when she started to get worse that she watched all these food shows on TV and she wanted to bake cheesecakes again. So we baked a cheesecake together every Sunday for four years. Each recipe on my menu is from a specific Sunday.”

Not only does he serve up sweet classics like strawberry, but he’s got cookies n’ cream and sea salt mocha, too. There’s even a TACO CHEESECAKE. Pack it up, let’s get this order on the road.

Jean-Bart, who was born in Haiti, became a US citizen in 2011. Black history isn’t something that should be confined to a month, he says. “I feel like Black History is American history; it’s everybody’s history, so to me it’s 365 days a year — but it’s great to highlight that this month.” Read more about the sweet story behind Val's Cheesecakes.

Check out more stories featuring game-changing chefs:

Posted by Vidya Rao
Category: Talk of the Table