Fellow ‘Top Chef’ Contestants Join Burrell for ‘Immersive’ Juneteenth Dinner

Dawn Burrell

FOUR OF AMERICA'S most celebrated Black chefs, all of whom are competing on this season of Bravo's Top Chef, are teaming up in Houston next weekend to host a special dinner in honor of Juneteeth. The event commemorates the 100th anniversary of the day enslaved Africans learned they were free, more than two and a half years after President Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation, and comes during a season of a continued fight for racial equality in Houston and throughout the United States.

Houston's own Dawn Burrell — who will open Late August with biz partner Chris Williams in, of course, August — will host the "immersive dinner" at Bisong Art Gallery. Here, her fellow Top Chef contestants Nelson German of Oakland, Kiki Louya of Detroit, and New Hampshire-based Chris Viaud will join her, crafting five courses effectively exploring the idea of freedom throughout the African diaspora.

"Our goal is to use our respective cooking styles to celebrate Juneteenth nearly a century and a half later, while showcasing innovative riffs on dishes that represent freedom across our collective cultural experiences," explains Burrell. The four chefs bring a diverse set of cultures and experiences to the table, with roots in Haiti, Nigeria, America and the Dominican Republic.

The food will highlight seasonal, locally sourced ingredients; drinks courtesy of Black-owned businesses like Highway Distillery, For the Culture Brewing and Branwar Wines will accompany.

And speaking to the event's "immersive" nature will be a number of visual elements, such as a live-painting demonstration by Wayne J. Bell and a display curated by Robert Hodge. "Juneteenth and our own emancipation continue to inspire my art practice and methodology," says Hodge, "especially as it pertains to collective thinking and what happens when we collaboratively work towards real equality in America." Hedley & Bennett will also provide each chef with a colorful custom apron.

Proceeds will benefit Lucille's 1913, a nonprofit established at the beginning of the pandemic by Burrell's business partner Williams. To "get to the root" of food insecurity in underserved parts of Houston, the org has distributed more than 250,000 meals, and recently added initiatives like a self-sustaining farm and a culinary-arts education program. Tickets to the Juneteenth dinner start at $250.

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