Harlem Rising, The Story of Chef Joseph JJ Johnson

Take the culinary pulse of Harlem, New York, and all indicators lead to The Cecil. The Afro-Asian American brasserie is a hangout for cocktail sipping and gandering at pretty faces as well as an avant-garde flavor experience. Led by a respected corporate magician, noted restaurateur and rising culinary master, the corner of St Nicholas Avenue and 118th Street is alive and kicking.

On the eve of spring, I chatted with Chef de Cuisine Joseph “JJ” Johnson about community, fried guinea hen and his culinary journey.

Uptown and the new New York

I was born in New York and raised in Pennsylvania. My dad was born in the Bronx but grew up in Harlem, and my grandfather lived on 145th. My aunts live here — Harlem always felt like home.
The new New […]

By |April 9th, 2014|Blog

Into The Woods

The Hoover Reservoir became an accidental refuge for Dudley Edmondson as a child when he needed an escape from an alcoholic parent. He soon discovered — while surrounded by grass, trees, flowers and fresh air — the calming, stress-reducing effect produced by the wilderness. “When you’re in that space, you don’t think about the not so great parts of your life,” says the Columbus, Ohio, native. “You’re so present. The things that bum you out just aren’t on your mind.” It was this soothing experience that laid the foundation for what would become his lifework.

As a wildlife photographer, videographer and author, Edmondson encourages diversity in the great outdoors. In 2006, he penned The Black and Brown Faces of America’s Wild Places, a profile of African Americans in nontraditional […]

By |March 28th, 2014|Blog

California’s Best Black American Vintners

As an informed wine drinker, with a palate for Bordeauxs, Pinot Noirs and Malbecs, I am also a student of black American history. While there are more than 7,000 wineries in the United States, less than two dozen are owned by black American vintners, and these are concentrated mostly in California. Until quite recently, I knew little about black vintners. Over the course of several visits to the regions of Napa, Sonoma and Healdsburg, I became acquainted with this fascinating history, and learned not only that the business of winemaking does not begin and end with growing grapes, but also that, at the heart of winemaking, especially black American winemaking, is a rich passion for farming, good food and good wine.

The Esterlina Vineyards & Winery and the Everett Ridge […]

By |March 20th, 2014|Blog

First Adventure

My late great-aunt Bessie Goolsby lived in Washington, DC, for 30 years. She considered her P Street and Florida Avenue address to be in Shaw, though newcomers might argue she dwelled in the Truxton Circle neighborhood. My first vacation was spending a summer with our iron-fisted matriarch, affectionately known as Bess Goo. I cherish the memories of time I spent as her shadow as she crossed the Potomac River to clean fancy houses. I’d sit my six-year-old self at the bottom of staircases and sing along with the zooming sounds of the vacuum cleaner.

Instead of showering me with hugs and kisses, Aunt Bess Goo taught me the value of instincts, without them one can’t maneuver through the maze of life. She was a staunch penny pincher and her migration […]

By |March 13th, 2014|Blog

Caribbean Carnival Experience in the US

The music, the smiles, the beautiful costumes, the bands marching up and down the streets, the copious amounts of food & drink, the steel drum performers and the cool island tunes blaring . . . this is the essence of the Caribbean carnival. Although this jovial occasion may appear simplistic in execution, there is a rich history of pride, resilience and triumph embedded in these celebrations. Popular in West Indian countries, such as Haiti, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago, carnival is as much about self-expression as it is about showing ancestral pride.

So, as a carnival enthusiast, what do I do when I can’t make it to the Spice Island, the Pearl of the Antilles or the Land of the Hummingbird for my Caribbean carnival fix? I experience the Caribbean […]

By |March 5th, 2014|Blog