Top Chef's Dawn Burrell Captured the Flavor of Freedom In Foods Served at Juneteenth Jubilee Dinner in Houston
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Top Chef’s Dawn Burrell Captured the Flavor of Freedom In Foods Served at Juneteenth Jubilee Dinner in Houston

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What does freedom taste like?

Bravo Top Chef Season 18 finalist, Chef Dawn Burrell, commemorated Juneteenth with a five-course Juneteenth Jubilee dinner at Ronin Art House in Houston, Tex., Friday, June 17.

(Image: Chef Burrell and partners at the Juneteenth Jubilee Dinner in Houston)

BLACK ENTERPRISE was invited to the jubilee which featured a lineup of Black chefs, winemakers, distillers, growers, and purveyors who joined Chef Burrell to raise funds for the Houston-based nonprofit, Lucille’s 1913.

Burrell captured the flavor of freedom in foods from across the African diaspora. The chef opened with, “Juneteenth is rich. It’s watermelon. It’s collard greens. It’s everything African American.”

The 2020 James Beard Award semi-finalist dismantled disparaging comments about watermelon in her first course, compressed watermelon. The dish incorporated wilted collards, shito, and caviar. Also served, was a glass of 2021 Pur Euphoria Rosé, California. Next, guests indulged in tomato curry with gulf fish, paratha roti and 2021 Dorée Chardonay, California.

(Image: Etouffee crawfish toast)

In the spirit of togetherness, Burrell invited guests to expand their palates with the help of Chef Mark Clayton and Chef Mariya Russell. Clayton is the executive chef and a partner at Squable restaurant in Houston. Russell joined Burrell and Clayton in the kitchen as the first African American woman chef to have led a Michelin-starred restaurant. Cocktail hour featured a watermelon elderflower punch and Burrell’s green tomato canape, beef tongue and buttermilk. Russell created etouffee crawfish toast, while Clayton made hog’s head cheese.

(Image: Tea cake and hibiscus tea)

Burrell and her partnering chefs presented succotash with lump blue crab, corn, peppadew and 2020 The Pinot Project, California for dish number three. The fourth course, short rib, contained hibiscus and charred onion tare, black-eyed peas, spiced allium soubise and 2016 Pur Noire State of Zin Zinfandel, California.

Pre-dessert included tea cake and hibiscus tea. The fifth and final course, cornbread and buttermilk custard tart, had macerated peaches and was topped with crisp bacon. Coffee old-fashioned crafted with coffee bean-infused Uncle Nearest, burnt sugar, and bitters complemented the dish.

(Image: Cornbread and buttermilk custard tart)

All proceeds from the dinner went to Lucille’s 1913. A member of Burrell’s team shared that the dinner started as an idea for a road trip with Burrell and Chef Chris Williams, founder of Lucille’s 1913.

According to the nonprofit’s website, “Lucille’s 1913 provides 686 meals a day to underserved communities in Sunnyside, Acres Homes, Fifth Ward, and Third Ward in Houston.” The organization works to combat food insecurity and waste, create training and employment opportunities, and empower communities to discover a self-sustainable livelihood through food.

(Image: Juneteenth Jubilee Dinner at Ronin Art House, Houston, Tex.)

Burrell, who is African American, hopes to host a dinner annually with different chefs across the globe. Burrell and her team rooted the dinner in community. Her goal is to get enough sponsors to gift seats at future dinners to members of the Houston community. Burrell wants to provide an opportunity for the community to taste different foods without the financial burden.

The former track and field Olympian turned chef will open her own restaurant, called Late August, this year. Late August will open under Lucille’s Hospitality Group in the heart of Midtown Houston, the Ion District. Chef Burrell shared a few items that will be on the menu at Late August:

Snacks

– Rich coconut curry, chicken backs, paratha roti.
– Rotating seasonal hummus with culturally inspired ingredients like peanut hummus, soft rice pita, seasonal vegetables.

Sandos, Salads

– Fried potato salad, dill egg emulsion, braised leeks, crispy allium and fermented chilies.
– Crispy beef rib, berbere, crusty bread, honey onions and yam chips.

Main Dishes

– Black rice congee, smoked goat, marinated egg.
– Dried beef, corn pappardelle, corn cream, tomato broth, okra.
– Crunch sea bass, basil rice salad, fish caramel, coconut broth.

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