Jeff Ware had been at the Taste of Black DC long enough to sample several dishes that were very appetizing.
But then he stepped up to the table where the caterers from FOURK’d Catering were and took a bite.
“Now they can bring it,” he said, exclaiming that his taste buds had taken him to a whole different level.
Ware was part of the horde that attended the second annual Taste of Black DC event Saturday, Oct. 21 at the Dance Institute of Washington in Northwest.
The event, which spotlights the city’s top Black chefs and restaurants, was organized by the Black Law Students Association of UDC’s David A. Clark School of Law.
It was truly a festive atmosphere, with a DJ cranking out R&B tunes as smiling people bobbed their heads while walking about the long room.
Deshawn Anderson, FOURK’d co-owner, said his business had been at the inaugural Taste of Black DC last year and had decided to work on a few special dishes for this year. He and his partners had prepared a sweet potato biscuit with a crab gravy, topped with spiced garlic shrimp. They also had a southern collard green dip, their take on a traditional spinach dip that they served with deep-fried wonton chips.
“We saw last year some people were vegetarians and others ate meat, so we had to come back with something special,” Anderson said, adding that the tasters were satisfied with their efforts.
“Our style is sort of traditional with a twist,” Anderson said. “FOURK’d represents, flavor, presentation, creativity and passion.”
The inaugural “Taste” had approximately a hundred guests sampling dishes from the nearly a dozen caterers and restaurant who had come to participate, said Renee Mims, a UDC student and one of the affair’s organizers.
Saturday’s program was sold out, she said.
Those that attended the program paid up to $30 and the proceeds were used by BLSA to fund other programs the group holds during the year, including its alumni jazz brunch, regional mock trial competitions, and “Know Your Rights” training for D.C. public schools.
Aurelia Geddis, owner of Sweet Soul, served macaroni and cheese in small tart-size servings with a barbecue meatball attached with a toothpick. She also had a banana cookie and chicken salad which had a mediterranean flavor.
“I’ve been cooking all my life,” said Geddis, who began her business two years ago.
“I remember when I was little I would play restaurant with my sister,” she said, even though they only had Chinese-style instant noodles to eat.
The inspiration for her business’s name came from traditional food creations with mouthwatering desserts.
“It’s exciting to have people come up and sample everything,” Geddis said while handing out the dishes she prepared. “I’m always anxious a little bit, but it’s comforting to know people love my food. I put love into it.”
At the table next to her was Reggie Anderson Jr. and Edwin Charles, two chefs who have worked together for 12 years. In 2016, the two launched Andé Charles Slider Bistro, combining their names to christen their business.
They were serving their signature “fuego burger,” a beef burger infused with poblano peppers, which is similar to a jalapeno but more flavorful than spicy.
“Everything we serve is gourmet and comes from local stores from the D.C. area,” Anderson said.
Embroidered on the left sleeve of his black chef jacket is a pink ribbon, symbolizing breast cancer awareness. Anderson said it’s for his mother, who succumbed to the illness last year.
Twanna and Victor Lee were over at a smaller table sampling some dishes.
“The burger was really good,” Victor Lee said. “It was seasoned well.”
Tawanna Lee said the event was special because the foods prepared demonstrated various cultures.
“You have a different variety of food,” she said.
Another foodie, Francine Thomas, savored a dish of curry chicken.
“The meat was tender, it was flavorful but a little salty,” said Thomas, who traveled from Burtonsville, Va., with a guest, Tony McFarland, to attend the program.
McFarland said he enjoyed the ambience of the setting but imagined that the program could be held outdoors.
Kathleen Dominique of Jenny’s Kitchen Catering had a table covered with traditional Caribbean dishes such as rice and peas, stirred fried cabbage and jerk chicken.
“It’s my first experience like this, it’s like a big meet-and-greet,” said Dominique, a native of Trinidad and Tobago.
Beside her dishes, she said she also does a lot of baking, like black cake. She also prepares a potent alcoholic drink she called “punch de creme.”
Gerald Pepper shared a plate of peach cobbler with friend Brenda Jones.
“I think it’s a good idea,” Pepper said of the event. “I think it is smart to introduce black-owned restaurants to people. It’s a good way to promote black business and promote community awareness.”
Jones agreed, saying the event is a service for the community because it gives exposure to different black businesses that wouldn’t normally get it otherwise.
“So far, what I’ve tasted, I liked,” she said gleefully.