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The Last Great Bastion of Racism

  • s

Food Journalism: the last great whites-only club. Are there any negro food writers? Are African or Jamaican restaurants touted with gusto? If you are a racist but don't want to join the KKK, is becoming a foodie the next best thing? Are trendy white - or soon to be white- neighborhoods safer to write about? Are African-American chefs allowed in the kitchen?

Sure, there is Carla Hall... and maybe the Neelys. Are they our Denzel Washington? Good enough for a starring role evey once in a while as long as the character is not actually black. Or do our black chefs need a white saviour in order to be accepted by a white, I mean foodie, audience?

Are we enjoying the cooking of Viola Davis while Emma Stone works the hostess stand?

If they clandestinely banned black people at your favorite restaurant, when would you realize? If they refused to hire black hosts or hostesses, would you know? Or would your first inkling be on the 5 o'clock news?

  1. Come to Toronto and you will find, "African or Jamaican restaurants touted with gusto".

    Jerk, Roti and Ethiopian and other African food are discussed at length and enthusiasm in our media and in the Ontario (inc. Toronto) board - check it out.

    Search "African" for that board and you will be surprised and gratified.

    26 Replies
    1. re: DockPotato

      There is some discussion in DC about Ethiopian, but after that it looks bleak. Good to know about Toronto.

      Still, what are the major newspapers in Toronto? Do they have any black critics? Do they put out any top lists? Are there any black chefs on the list? When you think of the latest foodie restaurants, do black people go there?

      1. re: Steve

        Toronto has only an 8.5% black population.

        1. re: Veggo

          Yeah, Canada is not exactly where I was thinking of when I started this thread. And sorry if you folks in New Zealand feel a bit left out too.

          1. re: Steve

            Yes, and Mr. Anti-Racist seems to totally have forgotten about Asian food

            When in doubt or the wrong, play the racist card

            1. re: FriedClamFanatic

              I started this thread to discuss mostly the employment of black people in the sphere of the burgeoining 'Foodie' industry from writing to restaurant staff.

              You are welcome to add any insights you have regarding Asian food writers or other employees.

              Most cities have huge unemployment numbers regarding their black population. With an enormous foodie revolution going on, especially with the onslaught of interest in Modern American cuisine, I was wondering why I don't see more black writers and black staff.

              As far as the epithet of "Mr Anti-Racist" is concerned, I didn't realize that placed me in such a distinctive camp.

              1. re: Steve

                Steve, here in NY we see quite a few black staff members in upscale restaurants. The last two fine dining restaurants we went to both had black servers, for example. I would assume the same is true in DC.

                I have to note that historically there were a lot of blacks preparing and serving food in this country. Like the other trades it does not seem to be an occupation that families and schools encourage black (or other) kids toward these days. the college degree and white collar is the thing. There are plenty of black entrepreneurs who open and manage independent and franchise restaurants especially within the black community - Ive met young black college grads that aspire to this It seems to me that these young people are less likely to be attracted to the types of foodie shrines or to cheffing in them or writing about them because they are farther from their home and community experience.

                In my still largely black part of Brooklyn there are a fair number of black-owned restaurants, caribbean, southern or recently BBQ (the co-owner of Morgans is from Bed-Sty). Historically there were others, most prominently Gage and Tollners (closed maybe 10 years ago), which had at one point Edna Lewis as chef serving her wonderful southern cuisine - this restaurant always had a corps of very fine professional black waiters. Their is a prosperous Afro-American and Caribbean population to support these restaurants. In addition, there are hundreds, maybe thousands of smaller caribbean, african and soul restaurants here. They mostly serve simple food at a inexpensive price point and their cuisine is targeted at their own community, primarily. this second category of restaurants can certainly include classic chowhound type "finds" with delicious food, but not the sort of places that high end critics will frequent.

                I suggest that if OP wants to comment on issues racial, he should spend more time visiting the black community and meeting the people there. There are certainly still cultural and economic barriers which can deter crossover from minority to the larger communities, but its not a simple matter of white "racism" making crossover less frequent.

                Finally, Id like to comment on the point that was made about Indian restaurants. There are very fine indian restaurants, including some crossover successes in NY and other major cities. Chefs like Floyd Cardoz have been very successful at translating the Indian flavors into a context more recognizeable to europeans, Out of this category which is largely patronizedby prosperous expats and westerners - most Indian, mexican, african etc restaurants, like the caribbean places mentioned above, exist mainly to provide familiar food to their own communities (and takeout food to Americans) at a cheap price. Since most people whatever the race or culture tend to prefer the familar, I think that it is a higher hill to climb to popularize indian foods, say than french.Most Americans do not appreciate fine Chinese, Korean, middle eastern or japanese cuisine, either.

                1. re: jen kalb

                  Thanks for your comments, jen. Judging form what you've said, what is happening in Brooklyn is very different from DC. I believe I took your advice my last time in Brooklyn and went to Milan's for Slovakian food.

                  "I suggest that if OP wants to comment on issues racial, he should spend more time visiting the black community and meeting the people there."

                  I've been in DC for a long time now. Back when I worked on 14th St, I had three soul food places within a block, and I was the palest face around. I worked at the Source Theatre, building scenery to all hours of the night, so I was intimately familiar with the denizens of the neighborhood into the wee hours. We had three 'theatres' there at the time, one was little more than a squatters house, and we did shows in the back alley as well. As an old style Chowhound, I've traipsed around every corner of DC. I was also a basketball junkie, so I played pick up games all over town, from under the 395 highway on I St, SE to Adams Morgan. A torn ACL and miniscus during one of those games sideilned me for good. And when a guy like me walked into the old Ibex Club at Missouri and Georgia Aves, where everyone (but me) gets patted down, my presence in the audience is not lost on the comedian who introduced the acts. I am a GoGo fan (old school).

                  But I am also a soul food devotee as well as african, jamaican, and just about anything else I can get my hands on. The 'top five' in my profile lists a soul food place that I wrote about before anyone else got there - and has since become a known quantitiy- and a jamaican place that is as far out into SE DC, across the Anacostia River, as you can get. I made friends with Liberté of Chez Aunty Libe (Senegalese) before anyone knew she was there. I enjoy practicing my French with her. Unfortunately she is still struggling. Why? The press will still write up and talk about the lastest Modern American joint rather than give her an inch of attention. The Washington Post Weekend's section did a 40 best bites, and I'm pretty sure it reflected chefs, owners, and a clientele that represented a veritable "Day of Absence" for the negro. (if you are familiar with the Douglas Turner Ward play).

                  This is not to say my observations are better than anyone else's. I asked a lot of questions in the OP. Yes, I was trying to be provocative, but mostly because I am angry that this is an area of economic opportunity that African-Americans seem to be shut out of. My first point of contention, though, i think is irrefutable: the press is all-white. Not just a little white, but all-white. And I see a preference for Eurocentric dining and that means more stars and the idea that the best restaurants or best food in a city are just that. Langston Bar and Grill, in an area of town that sees few restaurants, is completely overlooked and has no foodie cred - maybe it isn't daring enough.

                  I see from your post that maybe DC is vastly different from other places, so that's good to know. Honestly, seeing multiple African-Americans working an upscale restuarant was a surprise to me.

                  So one more question, how about the Chowhounds in New York? Do they reflect the African-American presence in that city?

                  1. re: Steve

                    Curious, are you saying that blacks are excluded from taking culinary courses, applying for jobs in upscale restaurants or exploring other cuisines? As for being a big C or little c chowhound, thats wholly a matter of self selection. Perhaps since you are inclined to explore, you underrate the tendency of most people (of all sorts) to stay within their comfort zones, their own community, the familiar food of their childhood, etc. It takes an intrepid spirit and/or encouragement and education to move outside. The very size of the black community in places like DC, NY or Philly may make it less likely that people who grow up there want to or can envision options outside. While racial and cultural attitudes are clearly a factor, its a two way street. I serve meals at my church coffee hour, we have a very large Caribbean population and many of the folks will not touch any food which does not fall within familiar categories cooked in the way they prefer. Its not that different from trying to serve real thai food in suburban ohio.

                    Lastly, DC and its suburbs are geographically very spread out. Do you think the black bourgeoisie are patronizing restaurants in the district (say in SE) or are they hanging out in the suburbs? Without prosperous patrons, restaurants arent likely to be able to raise their sights, use the best quality ingredients, provide a comfortable dining experience.Without these factors, restaurants will remain chowhound faves rather than more mainstream choices.

                    1. re: jen kalb

                      This is a great discussion. What I find in the DC area (and Boston back in the 80' and 90's when I lived there but don't know if it's the same) is that, while it is diverse, it is almost a self-segregated diversity compared to an area like NYC or SF where groups tend to mix and mingle w/out thought. This is obviously very generalized. I'd be hard pressed in NYC or SF to find a restaurant that is all white. I wonder if this is a catch 22. There are restaurants which are predominantly white which makes people who are African American not want to go and because not many go, there aren't many in the industry. I don't really pay attention to racial make up in restaurants (growing up in Ohio in the 70's, I was almost always the only nonwhite so just got used to it. The next time I go to trendier/higher end restaurants, I'll pay attention.

                      1. re: jen kalb

                        There are some big changes going on right now in DC. Top 'foodie' destinations are popping up in locations that would have been considered off limits even two years ago. So talk of 'comfort zones' is being thrown out the window.

                        Restaurant critics will now send their readers to those neighborhoods that would have been unthinkable before. But what paradigms are being followed? Who is being hired? That is a big part of what I'm talking about.

                        So part of the equation is that an older restaurant like Chez Aunty Libe or Langston Bar and Grill are still being ignored. And part of the equation is that predominantly white clientele are flocking to predominantly white chefs hiring predominantly white staff in predominantly black neighborhoods - or should I say soon to be white neighborhoods- by white restaurant critics.

                        This is not just a case of white vs black, but some categories are included in this as well. So a Salvadoran place, (among others) willl also be in this situation. Despite the huge increase of a local Bolivian population and ensuing restaurants popping up, they too get ignored. High tone Indian will receive its due, but family style - no. And don't even mention the idea that Indian cuisine is hardly monolithic - specific regions or identities are not part of the conversation.

                        So, yeah, that's why we have Chowhound, and I recognize that already. But now it seems more economically impactful than ever before.

                    2. re: jen kalb

                      your post also reminded me of a book I read when I was little called "The Tap Dance Kid" about a blackboy who wanted to tap dance and his father didnt want him to. Not because it was dance but because he equated it with days when "tappin' for the white man" was really like being a court jester and a way regulating blacks to to a serving class "cook for the whites clean for the whites entertain for the whites" . Food and the importance of it on more than just a "eat to live" way is becooming more widly embraced across all demographics.

                      1. re: girloftheworld

                        This is the perfect example of what I was saying about it being a self-selecting group Because no one does it, no one thinks or wants to do it. I think of skiing, too, having been a predominantly white activity (lol, literally, too). But in the past decade or so, there has been a big outreach at my little mountain and the numbers of other races has increased substantially. Enough that it's a fairly diverse place.

                        1. re: girloftheworld

                          Oops, meant to reply to girloftheworld:

                          Are you talking about "Nobody's Family Is Going to Change" by Louise Fitzhugh? I read it when it came out, around 1974. The boy who wanted to tap dance was the little brother of the middle-school-aged main character, Emma, who wanted to be a lawyer. Their father opposed both of their ambitions. It was a great portrayal of how race/class/gender issues are inter-twined.

                          Any mention of Louise Fitzhugh makes me want a tomato sandwich. Sigh.

                    3. re: FriedClamFanatic

                      And don't forget Hispanic food also....

                      BTW, when did the Volunteer Thought Police force start using the word "negro" again?? I have seen it on Facebook also being used by the same type of person. What is this, 1962??

                      1. re: PotatoHouse

                        It's really not pejorative - United Negro College Fund tells me so.

                        1. re: MplsM ary

                          Really? You think "Colored people" is still ok because it's part of the name of the NAACP?

                          1. re: Bob W

                            People of color vs colored people. If they are ok with it, I will abide.

                            1. re: Bob W

                              Only Lou Reed can get away with that....

                          2. re: PotatoHouse

                            Gosh, I didn't know I had been nominated to the Volunteer Thought Police Force. That's very nice of you, though I am unclear how I am preventing or denying you from thinking.

                            "What is this, 1962??"

                            This has been covered before, but just in case you didn't know....


                            1. re: Steve

                              "I am unclear how I am preventing or denying [anyone] from thinking."

                              I don't know how you did it either, but there's been a lot of evidence here to support the notion that you may have.

                      2. re: Steve

                        "Do they have any black critics?" Quite possibly. Who knows? Who cares?

                        1. re: DockPotato

                          Would you be so dismissive if this translated into another career, like judges?

                          1. re: Steve

                            I think his comment was more that our critics go by pseudonyms and no one knows what they look like. Hence the "who knows, who cares" comment.

                          2. re: DockPotato

                            I should have elaborated. By my remark I mean that race is simply not a factor. None whatsoever.

                            Racism certainly exists in the city, no gainsaying, but our bigots are themselves the minority.

                        2. 'If they clandestinely banned black people at your favorite restaurant, when would you realize?'

                          Almost instantly.

                          'If they refused to hire black hosts or hostesses, would you know? Or would your first inkling be on the 5 o'clock news?'

                          I'm pretty sure I'd notice. I have a repertoire of favorite restaurants in my area and I'm friendly with most of the servers and hosts/hostesses.

                          Many of my favorite places are run by and staffed by Hispanic people. I've never seen a white person working there. Does it bother me? No.

                          I eat where the food is good and the atmosphere is fun, mostly on recommendations from my friends. I trust their opinions.

                          Food journalists? Who do you mean? Can you give an example?

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: thingmaker

                            The primary critic of a newspaper. Are any of them black?

                            1. re: Steve

                              Have you checked with any of the associations of food professionals and culinary journalists to get current data on membership statistics, minority recruitment programs, etc.?

                              1. re: Steve

                                Who would know? How many black journalists want to be the food critic? Do you think a newspaper should force one of their black reporters (of which there are many) to do the food column just because the industry as a whole needs more black representation in that area? The proposition is ridiculous.

                                Newspapers are struggling. What they want are good writers who will increase readership. No paper which needed a food reviewer would reject someone who was knowledgeable about food and who was a good writer for reasons of race. If you feel you have been rejected because of race, you'll just have to sue and try to prove it.

                                  1. re: Steve

                                    Well the new managing editor of the NY Times is black

                                1. While after reflection I have to confess that my Feedly food blog list is darned whitecentric, I have to ask: why aren't minorities firing up their Wordpress accounts and writing about food? There is nothing stopping any person of any ethnic background from writing about anything they want.

                                  (The actual answer is that 9/10 of contemporary food writers are former hedge managers/spouses who fled the rat race and are eating their way through their 401(k)s hoping there's a payday at the other end. And those folks are all white.)

                                  1. This is going to be an amusing thread to follow!

                                      1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                                        Other than period-piece movies like "The Butler" or "The Help," when have you last heard negro or black?

                                        This OP just baffles me, a post-babyboomer (just barely) resident of mid-Atlantic American big city.

                                        1. re: gaffk

                                          "Black" is still pretty common, just not so much in print.

                                          1. re: ennuisans

                                            I am still not sure what you suggest as an alternative.....

                                            1. re: Steve

                                              "Black," works. All of the black people I know take no offense to that, "African American," works too but it's a mouthful, and not all black people are African, or have African ancestry.

                                              For what it's worth I'm not saying you're a racist just because you said "negro". Most people find it offensive, including most black people I know/have known/discussed this subject with. Just saying "negro," doesn't mean you are necessarily a racist, insensitive yes, but not necessarily a racist. I hope you never say "negro," in public, it's pretty gauche.

                                                  1. re: mtlcowgirl

                                                    Yeah, I thought about that. Depends if you are considering it as an umbrella term for all the Americas.

                                                    1. re: Steve

                                                      I think a large part of the south american population would look at you oddly if you referred to them as african american

                                                      1. re: Bkeats

                                                        Our language is all in flux. I just finished community college with a very diverse population. In my required English classes (made up of 30-50 percent English as a second language students), our reading and writing was focused on current social issues. Much of the first week in both classes was taken up in explaining things like "African American." One Ethiopian I sat next to was surprised by the term and wanted to argue its use as imprecise and/or incorrect. Eventually the professor instructed those who had a problem with the term to silently insert "black" for African American.

                                                        1. re: MplsM ary

                                                          It is an imprecise term, since most dark-skinned Americans have ancestors from Europe or Asia as well. A large part of my ancestry is German, but nobody calls me a "German-American." "African-American" makes no more sense than that. We are both just American.

                                                          The entire notion of race is flawed and, in today's world, obsolete.

                                                          1. re: GH1618

                                                            Sure, we are all just Americans, except for those who aren't, but even those who are Americans should be able to recognize diversity when we see it, and to make note of it. Just like I referenced Day of Absence.

                                                            I fully accept now that in other cities, African-Americans may be playing a much bigger role in the Foodiesphere than is easily seen in Washington, DC.

                                                            Foodiespeher, that's my new favorite word.

                                                            1. re: GH1618

                                                              That reminds me of a conversation with my son about a classmate of his. In response to my inquiries about the kid, son told me that he was "Australian American."

                                                              1. re: tcamp

                                                                Actually my Grandfather was born in SOuth Africa to parents who were born in South Africa ( his family settled in South Africa in the late 1700s much like a lot of Americans coming to America) Soooooo my mom is first generation American... When she identified herself as African American in school once she was sent to the office

                                                                1. re: girloftheworld

                                                                  Assuming she's white, that's pretty funny, in an ignoranus (not a typo) sort of way on the teacher's part. A plastic surgeon of my acquaintance grew up in South Africa and likes to play on that for humor.

                                                          2. re: Bkeats

                                                            Since most of them speak spanish or portuguese, not english, they'd probably look at you oddly regardless of what you were saying. Just sayin.' 8<D

                                                            1. re: Bob W

                                                              Folks, you may have missed the request since it's further down the thread, but we asked people to let this tangent go and refocus on elements that have to do with food. Thanks.

                                                            2. re: Bkeats

                                                              I think the term "African American" works just like the term "Black IPA" works. Neither make any sense at all technically but then they make perfect sense because you know exactly what they are talking about. I guess another analogy is "Indian" which now is considered acceptable among most Native Americans because its often what they call each other and everyone knows what you mean. It doesnt matter that its origin was a case of mistaken identity any more.

                                                              All that being said, using the term "negro" in anything other than a purely historic context makes no sense at all in 2014. Would you say "I feel like some caucasian food!"? And if so I wonder what you would be talking about... (visions of wonder bread and american cheese sandwiches and some jello dish...)

                                                              1. re: Insidious Rex

                                                                The problem with "African American" today is that there are many Americans who have come here from Africa who are a different societal group than American "blacks." I know a few myself.

                                                                As for "Indian," "Amerind" is a better term. I have some Amerind ancestry myself and prefer that term to "Native American." I was born in the United States, as were my parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. I have ancestors who were in North America before the United States was formed. I think I am a "native American" even without the little bit of Amerind ancestry.

                                                                1. re: GH1618

                                                                  I think the better idea is to allow "Amerinds" to decide for themselves what to be called. And since this isn't 1978 I don't think "Amerind" is high on their list.

                                                                  1. re: ennuisans

                                                                    I don't understand your "1978" reference. "Amerind" is widely used today, especially professionally, but also by some Amerind groups, along with "Native American" or "Indian." But yes, people may call themselves what they like. The ambiguous terms are usually clear in context.

                                                  2. re: gaffk

                                                    I am happy to use whatever term you'd like. What do you suggest? You sidestepped any of the questions.

                                                    1. re: Steve

                                                      I usually try to refrain from labels, but if a physical description is necessary, I tend to go African American. As EFGM points out, this may not always be accurate though.

                                                      Oh, and I didn't sidestep anything . . . this is the first I have been back to this board since I posted.

                                                      1. re: gaffk

                                                        No sweat, the last time I heard the term negro was in the 2008 Broadway musical "Passing Strange, " captured on video superbly by Spike Lee. The entire musical is available on You Tube, and it is a tremendous artistic acheivement of the highest order.

                                                        "Now you don't know me, and I don't know you.
                                                        So let's cut to the chase, the name is Stew."

                                                        Google 'Stew' and 'The Negro Problem.' And watch Passing Strange!

                                                        Here is a short clip:


                                                    1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                                                      "Negro food writers"

                                                      Hands down the main reason I'm going to follow this thread like a fucking limpet. Personally I'm distressed by the lack of Negresses and Jewesses.

                                                      1. re: ratgirlagogo

                                                        When I was four i heard "Look! Colored kids ran up on our lawn!" Nobody could hold me back as I wanted to see multicolored (like colors of the rainbow) run over our lawn.

                                                        1. re: MplsM ary

                                                          As a kid I also wanted to know "what color?" and imagined purple, green, etc.

                                                          1. re: sandylc

                                                            I should have explained that the kids were in a car driving over our lawn, which is what made the event extraordinary.

                                                        2. re: ratgirlagogo

                                                          Right or wrong, I've always liked the sound of those two words. They sound elegant and patrician.

                                                        3. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                                                          Thank you! Wow! I can't believe I read that.

                                                          1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                            I thought the OP employed it to connote back of the bus status he believes is intact in this case...

                                                            1. re: mcf

                                                              I couldn't have said it better myself.....

                                                              1. re: mcf

                                                                It's completely inappropriate, regardless.

                                                                1. re: carolinadawg

                                                                  Totally disagree.

                                                                  Intentions and context matter. It was a literary device used by the OP to convey what he sees as an unjust state of affairs.

                                                                  Next we burn the books?

                                                                  1. re: mcf

                                                                    And disagree you may. I reject your assertion that it's a literary device.

                                                                    And your book burning comment is as ridiculous as the OP.

                                                                    1. re: carolinadawg

                                                                      Some folks here are discussing ideas, beginning with the OP, wrong or right.

                                                                      Books are collections of words. I'm not about to accept you or anyone else in charge of which ones they're allowed to contain.

                                                                      1. re: mcf

                                                                        I never said anything about what words books are allowed to contain. You are way over the line.

                                                          2. The premise here is really over the top. In my opinion, completely unfounded. Racism is systematic discrimination. Differences in racial representation due to other factors is not racist. There is no obligation on anyone's part to achieve demographic balance by quotas. If you think there is actual racial discrimination going on, you should document it, not merely allege it.

                                                            I find this post offensive.

                                                            26 Replies
                                                            1. re: GH1618

                                                              Perfectly summed up.
                                                              Though I don't find it offensive, just extremely distasteful.

                                                              1. re: GH1618

                                                                Quotas? Asking you to name one African-American food critic is a quota?

                                                                1. re: Steve

                                                                  You could ask this about most fields

                                                                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                    "You could ask this about most fields"

                                                                    Precisely. That's why you SHOULD ask this about most fields. Whatever the answers are, nobody's going to find them without asking questions.

                                                                    1. re: MGZ

                                                                      And then where do we get? The same answer. Racism, prejudice, socioeconomic differences...it all still exists, it's all still the reason.

                                                                      It's personal but I'll share. I grew up privileged not super wealthy but my parents made sacrifices for me to have what I needed and more, private school, extracurricular activities, personal ballet lessons, an Ivy League education, med school, and now residency at the top ranked hospital in this country. I'm Black and despite comments of being an "Oreo" when I was a kid I was blind to prejudice and racism, didn't think it was a big player. I now know that's naive. It was the only in the past 3 years that I truly realized they are rampant it's just now covert. Sad, but true.

                                                                      It's not the big steps anymore. Black female physician at Hopkins, fine, great achievement but what happens when you get there it's a different story.

                                                                      1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                        Since I can't believe that anyone who is so enlightened about, and in tune with, her own diet can really be that fatalistic (or nihilistic, for that matter), I'll generally submit that we can get enough knowledge to develop, and spread, understanding. Call me Polly, but I'm good with the notion that ignorance can be overcome that way. A lot of folks may need to climb back down the steps to point out that they're only shadows from the fire on the cave walls, but it's gotta be better than doing nothing.

                                                                        Edit: I guess to put it another way, what if you're lying in bed and smell a whiff of smoke? Do you not want to get up and investigate its source? To keep looking to see what must be extinguished? Lie in bed hoping it's nothing without sleeping? Just roll over and resume snoring?

                                                                        1. re: MGZ

                                                                          I didn't say it wasn't worth discussing but why is it specific to food critics? It's a general social issue. I agree knowledge is power and generally knowing better allows you to do better. My experience was a possible explanation for why I think it makes sense there are no black food critics perhaps.

                                                                          1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                            I think that the totality of the thread has broadened the OP's inquiry appropriately. I'm guessing, in retrospect, Steve might have worded some things differently. At bottom, though, I believe it's a healthy conversation to have inside this little bubble of ours. At least, I've learned a few things.

                                                                            1. re: fldhkybnva


                                                                              I think I missed your biographical information during our "conversation" yesterday morning. Though I feel I may have picked up parts of it in other threads. I guess it doesn't change much of what was discussed.

                                                                              One thing that struck me, however, cogent to the totality of this thread, is the mention of Baltimore. While in school, I lived on Paca Street, not far from Lexington Market. I'd shop and dine at the Market often, as would my friends and students at the other schools. That was some time ago, but I have been back several times over the subsequent years. Current students still routinely there to grab lunch, as do my, now well-heeled, classmates.

                                                                              Whenever the inevitable "Best Crabcakes in Baltimore" threads pop-up, Faidley's is, of course, mentioned. Invariably, someone notes that it's in a "bad" neighborhood. Admittedly, it's not the prettiest place in Charm City, but it's certainly not dangerous (unless it has deteriorated significantly in the past year or so, but many of the threads I'm talking about well predate that). To me, that is viable example of the covert, coded, subtle type of racism that sometimes permeates the "foodie" culture (and, as you've suggested, society at large).

                                                                              1. re: MGZ

                                                                                "To me, that is viable example of the covert, subtle type of racism that will permeate the "foodie" culture (and, as you've suggested, society at large)."

                                                                                Except it's neither covert, nor is it subtle!

                                                                                1. re: MGZ

                                                                                  Unfortunately, your experience is still the reality here. People are encouraged to go elsewhere for the "best crabcakes" for fear of mugging as if that's likely in the middle of a busy market at noon on a weekday. I don't spend much time on that side of town, but when I do it's evident that Lexington Market is not a dangerous place and yet the warnings persist. In fact, I might hesitatingly say that the perimeter of Hopkins Hospital is a more dangerous place to be these days. I feel much more comfortable walking around Lexington Market than even 4 blocks away from the hospital due to recent increases in crime.

                                                                                  1. re: MGZ

                                                                                    I pity those who avoid Lexington or even Cross-Street market because a 'scruffy' (uhh - read: blacks or scroungy whites) element might be encountered. heavens! people I haven't been introduced to! and near me!.

                                                                                    1. re: hill food

                                                                                      The "scruffy" are quite entertaining. My conversations around Baltimore in the "less than desirable" places are some of the best I've had in the city :)

                                                                                    2. re: MGZ

                                                                                      I was at a Mexican restaurant in Houston and overheard a lady on her phone saying she was "in the hood" like it was some kind of grand adventure. The street is Long Point, probably the most diverse food scene in the city. Yes it's a bit scruffy, but there are excellent examples of Thai, Korean, Mexican, Tex-Mex, Mandarin Chinese, carnicerias and taco trucks everywhere, and I'm sure I'm leaving something out.

                                                                            2. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                              "You could ask this about most fields"

                                                                              Oh yes, but this is a Board dedicated to Food Media, so I think it's an appropriate question.

                                                                              Foodies will flock big time to places they are pointed to. One positive mention from the Washington Post, and previously deserted restaurants will have to add seating and start taking reservations.

                                                                              The question is, what is being ignored by the critics?

                                                                              Anyway, I found it interesting that a Chicago newspaper in 2012 asked about where are all the black chefs in that city..... I would go further to talk about entire categories of extant restaurants that are regularly ignored.

                                                                          2. re: GH1618

                                                                            It is a valid question. Why is asking it offensive?

                                                                            1. re: GH1618


                                                                              As an Asian guy with a funny name, I can tell you "systemic discrimination" pretty well doesn't exist.

                                                                              Now personal racism. Yeah. It still exists.

                                                                              1. re: GH1618

                                                                                They OP asked questions about race and the foodiesphere for discussion. You know, thinking about stuff.

                                                                                I think that's still allowed here.

                                                                                1. re: mcf

                                                                                  Although I don't agree w/ the premise, Steve has been open to discussing this issue. I think the worst thing is to shut down a discussion and say it's offensive, period. That closes all doors to potential understanding or correction. There has been good give and take here.

                                                                                  1. re: chowser

                                                                                    as my mother said to me "just because you are offended doesnt mean you are right. Listen."

                                                                                    1. re: girloftheworld

                                                                                      "just because you are offended doesnt mean you are right. Listen."

                                                                                      Wise advice from Mom. Wiser yet, is you following it.

                                                                                      1. re: MGZ

                                                                                        Exactly. Listening to the choir can only provide so much enlightenment.

                                                                                      2. re: girloftheworld

                                                                                        AMEN! I am going to remember this. A very important lesson in very few words. Thanks Mom!

                                                                                      3. re: chowser

                                                                                        Agree - I thought it was interesting topic. Maybe it would be better to spin it and ask why high end cooking is such a bastion of the white male middle classes as it is probably less sensitive/emotional for some.

                                                                                        The more I think about it the more it strikes me that many cultures/nationalities are underrepresented in top kitchens. Happily it is changing albeit slowly. Japanese chefs are masters of French food opening highly regarded restaurants in Paris and Sydney. Korean chefs seem to be on the rise following David Chang. Indian chefs in the UK regaining prominence. And hopefully Chinese, Thai etc food will move from the cheap and cheerful to high end and mainstream.

                                                                                        African and Caribbean food seems to be gaining traction in some countries especially as we see new immigrants from some of the distressed countries (Somalia etc). That said these are not highly evolved cuisines to state with so maybe that limits their rise somewhat (although it shouldn't limit the aspirations of talent to progress in other kitchens).

                                                                                        The other one is Middle Eastern and North African food. Food from Morocco around to Turkey is all intertwined as a result of the Moors and the Ottoman Empire and there is truly great food waiting to break out. The UK has Yotam Ottelenghi so hopefully he is a sign of further great talent to emerge from that region.

                                                                                        1. re: PhilD

                                                                                          I know he's fictional but I do love Gareth Blackstock (don't you love the irony in the name?). I would love to be able to go to Le Chateau Anglais.

                                                                                  2. I'm white and I love authentic Jamaican jerk chicken, popeyes, and Mr Bojangles. If we removed the 'negroes' from this equation, would the food suddenly become as inauthentic as a women's haircut from a straight guy?

                                                                                    1. What on earth set you off on this subject all of a sudden?

                                                                                      If you answer my one question I promise to reply to all of yours one by one.

                                                                                      Fair is fair.

                                                                                      And yes, this thread is a train wreck waiting to happen.

                                                                                      9 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: miss_belle

                                                                                        Curiosity. Where I live in Washington, DC I don't know any black Chowhounds. The press is white. The staff in the Food section seems to be white - judging from their pictures in the paper. When I look at Top lists, I don't see any African-Americans. When people talk about and flock to the latest restaurants, I don't see black customers, black line cooks and no black chefs. The foodie world seems to be devoid of black people.

                                                                                        I am now wondering if there is a single newspaper in this country for which the primary restaurant critic is black. Are there any African or African-American restuarants which make any of the Top lists? I ate a place yesterday with a black hostess, but I think it's the first time in years, honestly. My personal Top Five list (which is in my profile) has a soul food place and a Jamaican place listed, but in all the 'foodie' places I go that I read about in the major newspaper, it's pretty much only white people I see.

                                                                                        1. re: Steve

                                                                                          Curious, in a city that is just over 50% black. I don't know how to interpret your observations, nor do I see any useful purpose.

                                                                                          1. re: Veggo

                                                                                            Useful purpose: Foodie means business means money. Are black people far less likely to be foodies, employees, reknowned chefs, newspaper critics? How much less likely?

                                                                                            1. re: Steve

                                                                                              I don't know. There is more to living together in a homogenized world than business and money.

                                                                                          2. re: Steve

                                                                                            "Soul food" is not likely to be near the top of the list for reasons having nothing to do with race.

                                                                                            1. re: Steve

                                                                                              Then it seems to me that you and any others that feel slighted need to stop whining and create the positions you say are missing and then the 50% minority population in DC has to support them.

                                                                                              1. re: Tom34

                                                                                                Stop whining I can do. Create positions, I don't have the power to do that. But I do have the power to observe what is in front of me and post on Chowhound, which is exactly what I am doing now.

                                                                                                You also have power. The power to take stock of what is going on around you and report back. If you see what I am saying is not correct, you can give evidence just as others have done.

                                                                                                1. re: Steve

                                                                                                  Market forces are the predominate factor here as in just about every other industry. Just like search engines track user preferences, so does the high tech television industry. They know exactly who is watching what & they know the exact advertising value that the watcher's represent. Bottom line, their decisions are based on maximizing profits. I think you would find a very different makeup in the sports entertainment industry as the viewing audience is very different from that of the foodie entertainment industry.

                                                                                                  1. re: Tom34

                                                                                                    Ok, so let's see how "market forces" or "user preferences" get to the crux of what I am talking about:

                                                                                                    There are no African-American food critcs at a major publication. Market forces? People would stop buying the newspaper if they hired one? Would you?

                                                                                                    Next, look into the open kitchen of one of those hot new food places that receives three stars... Would people stop going there if they hired an African-American in the kitchen? Would you?

                                                                                                    You see a restuarant crowded with white poeple, would they stop going if the host stand had an African-American?

                                                                                                    What market forces are you talking about?

                                                                                          3. But all the Yelpers are Asian, so that should count for something.


                                                                                            1. ehh the full-time post of "food critic" is a vanishing one at most major newspapers. nobody new, whatever their ethnicity, is getting their foot in that door except through the blog route.

                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                              1. re: hill food

                                                                                                Still there must be a few hundred newspapers/magazines at which there is a food critc and that critic has the ability to draw more people into a place than any single person or blog. In DC, there is the Post (one main critic, a substitute, plus an entire Food section plus a Weekend section), the City Paper, and the Washingtonian - one main critic and several assistants. If you count them up, I am guessing there are twenty people right there.

                                                                                                And I am not against naming a food blogger with a lot of clout....

                                                                                              2. And to all the ladies out there...ever try getting your nails done by anyone other than of Asian race? Such a racist industry (insert sarcasm.....)

                                                                                                So a certain race has more than likely CHOSEN to not seek employment as food writers and it somehow just MUST be racism? And we wonder why there is such division in this country.......

                                                                                                12 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: TonyO

                                                                                                  I imagine that African-American beauty parlors exist. Though, I have never heard of a newspaper publishing a top 40 list, so I don't know that your comments are relevant to the discussion. If they did publish a list like that which ignored all the black beauty parlors in a city, then there very well could be some element of racism.

                                                                                                  It could be that African-Americans are simply not interested in food or writing about it.... just like they weren't interested in many other professions for which they are now regularly employed.

                                                                                                  1. re: Steve

                                                                                                    Wait what are you talking about? What professions did black people not used to be interested in? And when?

                                                                                                    1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                                                                                                      You seemd to have missed my point..... which involved a level of sarcasm.

                                                                                                      1. re: Steve

                                                                                                        I see, sometimes hard to tell online.
                                                                                                        In any case I see plenty of black people in Seattle, as diners, service staff, cooks, etc.

                                                                                                        1. re: Steve

                                                                                                          I think your point is that you are looking for someone to blame for YOUR viewpoint involving a shortage of diversity in the food writing world...........ZERO evidence of any racism but I guess your point is simply the lack of positions filled by a certain group must be racism....so maybe a few of the national newspapers that are still in publication should run a help wanted ad for food writers that says only African - Americans should apply....

                                                                                                          1. re: TonyO

                                                                                                            There are several histories going on here.

                                                                                                            One is the history of upperclass restaurants employing only white male waiters and hosts. Like casting a movie. My question is: now that the old school jacket and ties have been replaced by industrial chic, are restaurants that are trying to lure in their primarily white, young, hip crowds also looking for their staff to reflect the customers?

                                                                                                            The other history is that food journaists don't always start off as restuarant critics. They are first and foremost journalists who are then given that assignment. Many of them didn't start looking at that as a career until later. Who is handing them the keys to the car and why?

                                                                                                            The other history is publications and those critics patterning a star system from Michelin Guide. Extra points for crystal stemware and Euro paradigms that don't jive with eating 'ethnic' food for which cultural norms and accepted ideas of quality are demonstrably different.

                                                                                                      2. re: Steve

                                                                                                        Whoops! You must not know anyone who gets her nails done since TonyO's point zoomed right past you. About 98% of the people working in the pedicure and manicure field are Asian with a particular emphasis on Thai and Vietnamese technicians. Your reply (I imagine African-American beauty parlors exist) is a complete non-sequitur.

                                                                                                        As for the substance of your statement, a quick Google search would have turned up a link to the site Afrohair.com. This site lists 16 salons in Washington, DC proper and 12 in N. VA.

                                                                                                        1. re: Indy 67

                                                                                                          I will admit serious ignorance about where to get my nails done. I am still waiting for my appointment with Madge.

                                                                                                          1. re: Steve

                                                                                                            Write flip remarks if it pleases you.

                                                                                                            TonyO made a valid point about another service industry, one that contradicts your claim about the restaurant industry. I supplied some facts that backed up his point. I notice that you sidestepped the substance of either one of our posts and indulged in a quip.

                                                                                                            1. re: Indy 67

                                                                                                              Ok, so I just saw your post, I apologize for not responding sooner.

                                                                                                              I am not sure how far the nails/restaurant analogy goes.

                                                                                                              I have raised several questions about the Foodiesphere, and I am willing to admit I don't have all the answers.

                                                                                                              One of my key points (the most crucial I would say) is that a restaurant critic for a major newspaper has the unusual and enviable position of pointing the critical finger at a restaurant, and hundreds if not thousands will flock to that restuarant. I've seen it happen.

                                                                                                              i do not know if there is this similarity in the nail salon industry. Any other analogy derived from an anlysis of these two 'service industries' would be flawed if this is not the case.... at least regarding this thread which comes under the heading of Food Media.

                                                                                                              If you want to discuss Nail Salon Media, then be my guest.

                                                                                                        2. re: Steve

                                                                                                          Steve, there most certainly are A-A beauty parlors (salons, to be more accurate). It's such an established "thing" that when I've done various types of community outreach, we know salons are a great way to connect with A-A women.

                                                                                                          I get your point about barriers in the mainstream media but have you found any reporting/commentary about this issue in A-A media outlets?

                                                                                                          I also really think you're not factoring economic status into your question enough. It's not that it negates the existence of racism. You have to look at who has the resources to eat out at the press-worthy restaurants, who can survive on a freelancer's income (which is what many print food-writers are) while they work up to the mainstream press's editorial positions, and basically what community has financial clout.

                                                                                                          That's my take, anyway.

                                                                                                          1. re: heavysnaxx

                                                                                                            Good points all. (And yeah, salons are prevalent in all neighborhoods of DC)

                                                                                                            One of the things that got me started was walking down a couple of neighborhoods in DC. It's not that the African-Americans weren't there, or that they weren't eating out. But a few places that get the brunt of the 'foodie' attention were like mini 'black free zones.' And I don't think there was some big socio-economic factor. The place I posted a photo of is a fairly inexpensive burger and bbq joint.

                                                                                                            A vast majority of the Chowhound meals I organize are to inexpensive places. I want all people to feel welcome, and I try to write about all kinds of food with no bias. But we wind up anyway like our own little Klan meeting - well this is not exactly the case because in my decade long history of this we've had two Muslim Chowhounds.... and a vegetarian!

                                                                                                      3. Wow.I had to double check to make sure this wasnt a Troll Account... but nope it isnt... But seriously.
                                                                                                        Marcus Samulson?
                                                                                                        Tre Wilcox?
                                                                                                        Michale Twitty?
                                                                                                        Verta Mae Grosnover?

                                                                                                        17 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: girloftheworld

                                                                                                          Tre Wilcox is a Dallas chef who acheived a great deal of acclaim from the press, so that's very good to note. That makes me feel better.

                                                                                                          Marcus Samuelsson (correct spelling) has a place called Red Rooster Harlem which has also acheived great success. Like Wilcox, he is now a celebrity... but I still wonder how many stars did it get from the NY Times?

                                                                                                          All this doesn't address the question of the press itself. Sure, I can name a bunch of black Hollywood stars: Morgan, Laurence, Denzel, Wesley, Samuel.... but it doesn't mean there is no racism in Hollywood.

                                                                                                          I still see a foodie world, from the kitchen to the front of house to the press.... that is tremendously white despite a few stars that have risen.

                                                                                                          1. re: Steve

                                                                                                            Marcus Samuelsson got 3 stars from the NYT when he was at Aquavit. I realize you're mostly just interested in stirring things up, but you're not doing yourself any favors by ignoring facts that run counter to your premise.

                                                                                                            1. re: small h

                                                                                                              I asked, and you gave me an answer. Thank you. I am willing to readily admit I don't know, except for what I see what is right in front of me. And I see a foodie world that is shockingly devoid of black people.

                                                                                                              Like I made with my Hoillywood analogy, it's great that a few stars have risen to the top. But that alone doesn't give a true asessment of an industry.

                                                                                                              1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                Marcus Samuelsson also won season two of Top Chef Masters, a pretty high-profile gig. Seriously you didn't know this? Potrzebie, dude.

                                                                                                                1. re: ratgirlagogo

                                                                                                                  So is he now the Denzel of Cheftestants?

                                                                                                                  1. re: ratgirlagogo

                                                                                                                    Marcus Samuelsson is also a James Beard winner. I have his cookbook, The Soul of A New Cuisine, for which he won the Best International Cookbook Award. he also won Best Chef NYC 2003.

                                                                                                                    This is a very interesting PBS analysis of the the topic, and is titled Where are the black chefs? a good read:


                                                                                                                    Also interesting, is a culinary magazine and website called Cuisine Noir, whose mission it is to "help increase the visibility of blacks in the culinary industry among mainstream media, organizations and corporations." http://www.cuisinenoirmag.com/

                                                                                                                    There's no question that around the world the industry is lacking in black chefs, especially at the higher levels. Women are a bit scarce as well, although not to the same degree. Progress moves ever so slowly.

                                                                                                                  2. re: Steve

                                                                                                                    Funny that you go out of your way to correct someone's spelling but manage to put "Hoillywood" in your own post.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Chatsworth

                                                                                                                      Internet karma. It never fails if you flame for spelling or grammar.

                                                                                                                      Seems fair.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Chatsworth

                                                                                                                        I wasn't pointing out a typo, just trying be helpful in case others wanted to search more on the subject. Typos I leave laone.

                                                                                                                        (JK, I did that one on purpose.)

                                                                                                                        1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                          Well this might help your argument...Samuelsson is like Swedish African American so he is probably immune to racism.

                                                                                                                          1. re: joonjoon

                                                                                                                            Swedish Ethiopian American to be exact, right?

                                                                                                                            1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                              Although he has cooked for the White House, and has resided in the US for many years, I have not heard that he is an American citizen. I think he is Kenyan Swedish.

                                                                                                                              1. re: Bellachefa

                                                                                                                                I agree with you Bellachefa. I did a search earlier about his citizenship and drew blanks. All these hyphens are driving me crazy.

                                                                                                                                1. re: Bellachefa

                                                                                                                                  According to reviews and comments wrt "New American Table," he was an American citizen by 2009.

                                                                                                                                  Here's early history from his wiki: "Kassahun Tsegie was born in 1970 in Ethiopia. His mother died in a tuberculosis epidemic when he was three years old. He and his elder sister, Fantaye,[3] were subsequently adopted by Ann Marie and Lennart Samuelsson, a homemaker and a geologist, respectively, who lived in Göteborg, Sweden. The siblings' names were changed to Marcus and Linda Samuelsson. They also have an adopted sister, Anna Samuelsson. Samuelsson's biological father, Tsegie, is an Ethiopian Orthodox Church priest and father of eight of the chef's half-siblings; he still lives in the Ethiopian village where Samuelsson was born."

                                                                                                                              2. re: joonjoon

                                                                                                                                <Samuelsson is like Swedish African American so he is probably immune to racism>

                                                                                                                                Don't count on it. And he is not "like" anything. He is an American who was born in Ethiopia (not Kenya). and adopted and raised in Sweden. He trained as a chef in Sweden and all over Europe.

                                                                                                                    2. re: girloftheworld

                                                                                                                      Shout out to girloftheworld !! A tri-fecta (Marcu, Michael and VertaMae) - and thanks for adding Tre - I forgot him.
                                                                                                                      love your list. How do you know Verta?

                                                                                                                      1. re: kariin

                                                                                                                        I was emailing back andfourth with Chef Twitty and he introduced me to her work.

                                                                                                                    3. I am 60+, spent my childhood on Long Island, went to college in western NY, and ever since have lived in Boston suburbs. All along, I've lived where almost everyone else is white, as am I. Racial demographics were never a consideration one way or another, and I think this is the same experience as many other older Americans living their lives in the northern American states. Whether or not racism has played a role in who owns/works in local businesses in areas where I've lived, I have no idea.

                                                                                                                      It's true that there's a dearth of prominent black chefs. Leah Chase and Marcus Samuelsson come to mind. B. Smith had a successful syndicated home entertaining show, in which she was positioned as the black Martha Stewart. There are a number of leading food anthropologists, like Vertamae Grosvenor, who are black. PBS Create has a series filmed at finals in an annual seafood competition for professional chefs and many of the (almost all male) contestants are black. There's no shortage of black businesses in BBQ contests.

                                                                                                                      If you're looking for bigotry, the top echelon of chefs is composed overwhelmingly of white men. If there's any deliberate holding back of aspirants to their lofty ranks, it's also being applied to women of any and all races, and to non-white men other than blacks.

                                                                                                                      A brief observation re terminology: when I was little and in my early teens, Negro was an accepted term that was not insulting. Witness the speeches and writings of Martin Luther King. By the time I was in college, the term "black" was up and coming. It gave me pause since while not as bad as THE "N" word, I had known it to convey prejudice on the part of the user. Took me a few years to utter it without feeling awkward. Then "African-American" came into vogue. This one frustrated me, and still does. Replacing a single syllable with a 7-syllable synonym made no sense to me. If bullwarks of apartheid like Botha or deClerq moved from South Africa to the US, they'd be African-Americans, as Schwarzenegger is an Austrian-American. Nelson Mandela was African but not American. Australian aboriginal people? Black, not African, not American.

                                                                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: greygarious

                                                                                                                        In Washington, DC, there are a lot of black people living in the area temporarily from other countries, so I can't assume if I see a black person that they are African-American or Anything-American. The could be Trini, Jamaican, Nigerian, Kenyan, French ....

                                                                                                                        1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                          A perfect example of why I think that, as a designation of race, African-American is not a good choice of terminology.

                                                                                                                        2. re: greygarious

                                                                                                                          Just listening to Radiolab, where they gave examples of wherein politically-correct computerized redaction of publications results in folly. In one, when a politically conservative organization reprinted an article on athlete Tyson Gay, the name appeared as Tyson Homosexual. Elsewhere, a report said economic policy changes in Massachusetts were intended to put the state "back in the African-American".

                                                                                                                          1. re: greygarious

                                                                                                                            People need to learn not to depend on auto-correct, whether it's for political correctness or not. My husband recently texted me, "I booked the girl for Saturday night." Um, okay.

                                                                                                                            1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                              Hah, my spouse does that too. Most recently, "no seltzer at Hunks Costco." Huh?

                                                                                                                        3. "Are African or Jamaican restaurants touted with gusto?"

                                                                                                                          Not usually, but I think it's for the same reason that Indian places aren't really touted either. Namely, these cuisines don't feature a lot of food that's subtle/clean/elegant. I'm not saying they're worse. Not at all. I'm first-generation Indian-American and I like Indian food, but the cuisine doesn't have a great history of "showcasing ingredients" and it's therefore harder to talk about. Seriously, think about a really good Indian dish you like and try to describe it. It's probably got so many different spices that it's hard to convey accurately. Contrast this with something like sushi, which at the highest end gets talked about in hushed tones because it's basically simple (although that's not at all to say that it's easy).

                                                                                                                          Long story short, I think cuisines that rely on heavy use of spices rather than showcasing the basic flavors of constituent ingredients seem to get shafted when it comes to writing about how good something tastes, at least in part because it's just easier (and kinder to the writer's ego) to say "this dish captured the essence of morels and played beautifully against the ramps, what skillful simplicity" than "there were like a dozen spices that worked well together, I think, because I couldn't really pick them apart, but trust me they were good".

                                                                                                                          Related to this topic, has anyone ever seen a Michelin-starred restaurant that focuses on African food? I know there are at least a couple in SF and NY that do Indian and Middle-Eastern but I don't think I've ever seen anything African.

                                                                                                                          11 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: lamb_da_calculus

                                                                                                                            I think this is finally starting to change, and I'm crazy stoked about it. Those cuisines definitely deserve some more respect. I think that there will finally be various levels of sophistication and quality with all types of cuisine in the near future.

                                                                                                                            1. re: lamb_da_calculus

                                                                                                                              Hey whoa, why did a bunch of my posts get removed?

                                                                                                                              1. re: lamb_da_calculus

                                                                                                                                Indian cuisine is commonly listed along with French and Chinese as the three most important and influential cuisines of the world. If Indian restuarants do not get their due in the US it is because either they are not doing a good job of represenitng the cuisine or racism.

                                                                                                                                I am comfortable in saying that I know a lot of French restaurants over the years that have gotten big play from the press even though they paled in comparison to the cuisine in France. So I do believe that racism plays a big part in it.

                                                                                                                                1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                                  You've got to be kidding, not everything is due to racism man.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                                                                                                                                    So what about Hollywood.... do you think there is no racism in Hollywood?

                                                                                                                                    Do you not see racism in how people choose to spend their money or employ dining room staff?

                                                                                                                                    I mean, for years it was assumed that at an elegant restaurant the waiter and maitre d' would be white males.

                                                                                                                                    Is that mostly still true today?

                                                                                                                                  2. re: Steve

                                                                                                                                    Importance and influence, however you want to define those, aren't the same as getting fawned over by the same people who coronate noma, el bulli, fat duck, etc. It's probably true that way more people can tell you what chana masala is like than can explain cassoulet or coq au vin, but Indian food is pretty underrepresented at the "top" of the food world.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: lamb_da_calculus

                                                                                                                                      I think Indian cuisine is as sophisticated as any.

                                                                                                                                  3. re: lamb_da_calculus

                                                                                                                                    Lamb - Its interesting that Indian food is recognised in the UK.

                                                                                                                                    Quite a few Indian restaurants now have Michelin stars and the top indian chefs are regulars on cooking shows and are recognised names.

                                                                                                                                    There are good writers/bloggers who discuss Indian food and lots of national critics review the restaurants. Then there is Fay Maschler, who was born in India is the long standing food critic (since 1972) on the London Evening Standard.

                                                                                                                                    And Madhur Jaffrey and Anjum Anand are much loved cooks who has had a few TV series and has taught many Brits the wonders of Indian food.

                                                                                                                                    Why is Indian food so much further forward in the UK than US. I suspect its nothing more than a factor of time. The big waves of Indian immigration to the UK started in the '60's and the community is now well established. I believe Indian immigration to the US really only accelerated in the last decade so hopefully lots of positive changes to look forward to.

                                                                                                                                    The one irritant I see is a belief amongst some "foodies" that Indian and other styles of "ethnic" food (I hate that term) can only be good if very cheap and served in basic restaurants. If its posh Indian it is denigrated as not being authentic or real. Indian restaurants with Michelin stars are thought to have sold out etc etc.

                                                                                                                                    I actually find that "food warrior" attitude really strange, it seems these foods are only good if you need a sense of adventure to try them, and maybe it sub-conciously pigeon holes the chefs . Maybe this is one of the reasons these chefs don't rise to get the accolades they deserve....?

                                                                                                                                    1. re: PhilD

                                                                                                                                      Thanks for the elaborate response, I'd been aware that Indian food is better-represented in the U.K. than in the U.S. but not to the degree that you describe. Your point about authentic/cheap/good being synonymous to many foodies when it comes to many non-European cuisines is also appreciated. I think there is a bit of prejudice to this attitude. Part of it is just a sense of adventure and wanting to find a diamond in the rough - something that's pretty widespread on Chowhound and not itself a bad thing - and part of it is perhaps a bit of prejudice about what cuisines can (French, Japanese, Italian) and can't (most southeast Asian, African, eastern Europe, etc.) be "nice".

                                                                                                                                      1. re: PhilD

                                                                                                                                        There has been more Indian immigration into the UK than the US because the Indians are citizens of the commonwealth. Same reason the Jamaicans and the HK Chinese went there. Indian food is the most popular food in the UK in recent years, more than fish and chips or chinese or pizza or anything.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: ratgirlagogo

                                                                                                                                          Mostly very true. But its changing with Indians now emigrating back "home" to India in order to take advantage of the economic success there. And the migration to the US has increased, no doubt on the back of the IT industry and outsourcing i.e. you can work for IBM in India which puts you in a good position to apply to IT jobs in the US.

                                                                                                                                          Not 100% certain Indian food is more popular than British food in the UK. I know Chicken Tikka Masala is often voted favourite dish and it tops the supermarkets ready meals but thats not quite the same.

                                                                                                                                    2. If you want to have a serious and thoughtful discussion of why there are no famous black food critics and very few high-profile black chefs, alleging racism right off the bat is probably not the wisest strategy.

                                                                                                                                      Also of note, why are there so few high-profile latino chefs, when it's well known that the restaurant industry in the US relies heavily on latino cooks?

                                                                                                                                      The truth probably has to do with a complex interplay between socio-economic factors within minority groups, cultural values within minority groups, and biases (many of them subconscious) that play out with investors and restauranteurs and the target market of fine dining establishments (foodies).

                                                                                                                                      But statements like:
                                                                                                                                      "If you are a racist but don't want to join the KKK, is becoming a foodie the next best thing?"
                                                                                                                                      ... are just inflammatory and simplistic.

                                                                                                                                      9 Replies
                                                                                                                                      1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                        I meant that to showcase that foodie groups seem to be a 'black-free' zone. I have been organizing Chowhound group meals for about ten years now, and I have met upward of 100 Chowhounds, and not a single one of them is black. If I were to take a photo of the myriad of restaurants opening up on 14th St right now - a traditionally African-American neighborhood - I am not sure a single black person would wind up in any of the photos. Startlingly few of the employees are black.

                                                                                                                                        I have a photo to add: This is an outdoor restaurant on 14th street that serves bbq. BBQ! 14th street, one of the most important streets of African-American life in a city that is at least 50% black:

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                                          Just because the chowhounds you met arent black doesnt mean its due to racism. There is a huge leap between saying there are less black people on CH than whites and saying that the reason there are less is racism.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: kpaxonite

                                                                                                                                            Chowhound membership is definitely not a question of racism. It is completely voluntary, free, and nobody is discouraged or in anyway denied membership by the color of their skin. I invite all-comers to the Chowhound meals I organize (these meals are in no way condoned by the website.) It's simply that I have met all these people through Chowhound.

                                                                                                                                            However, if 'foodie' culture is 99% devoid of blacks, does that lead to fewer hires, from journalism to kitchen staff to front-of-house?

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                                              I think "foodie" is too big an umbrella here. You have cooks/chefs, who make food for a living. You have food critics, who eat food for a living. And you have the casual blogger/foodie/chowhound who make and eat food for entertainment. Each path has different challenges and motivations, and a white majority in any one is for different reasons than the others.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                                                Perhaps there have been fewer blacks that wanted to work in professional kitchens. In one of the links I posted above (PBS analysis of black chefs) one of the perceptions that emerged was that, in the black community, working in professional kitchens may be viewed as "degrading or not as prestigious as other fields of work".

                                                                                                                                                Again, here is the link: http://www.pbs.org/black-culture/expl...

                                                                                                                                                1. re: lynnlato

                                                                                                                                                  That is a wonderful link, thanks for posting. For those of us too lazy to explore links (I include myself in this category):

                                                                                                                                                  In 2012, the Chicago Tribune posed a simple yet thought-provoking question to its readers: "Where are the Black chefs?"

                                                                                                                                                  So I am not the only one wondering - i am not crazy - though there is contradictary evidence on this last point.

                                                                                                                                                  The difference is that I am wondering not just about chefs - who are the masters of the kitchen- but the entire industry, starting with restaurant critics. They follow a Euro-generated star system and give extra points for Euro paradigms in food and service. They come into the job with serious foodie prejudices and are dismissive of food unless it is prepared in an way that the Euro tastebuds approve.

                                                                                                                                                  There is a some talk about Indian cooking on this thread like it is a monolithic cuisine, but what about a Bengali family-style restaurant? Would their use of oil be a deal killer for a Eurocentric restaurant critic? In other words, mimic Euro paradigms and you do have a chance, but prepare the food as you might normally prepare it, and get ignored?

                                                                                                                                          2. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                            A (possibly, definitely not intentionally) loaded question: at the really high end is the reliance on latino cooks less pronounced? As far as I know it's pretty true that Latinos do a lot of the cooking at most restaurants, but whenever I watch videos that peek inside the kitchens at your Alineas and Per Ses and whatever the kitchens seem pretty white. This might go some way toward explaining the lower number of high-profile latino chefs. I might be wrong about this, nor do I have a reason for why it might be the case.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: lamb_da_calculus

                                                                                                                                              The stage system for fine dining decidedly favors hiring cooks with a higher degree of economic freedom.

                                                                                                                                              For those who don't know, the main way you get into cooking for fine dining restaurants comes from working in other fine dining restaurants... which most people do by working for free (staging) in said restaurants. Obviously, this excludes most people who can't afford to move around and work for free until they have a resume together.

                                                                                                                                              Of course, I don't mean to imply that all minorities can't afford to participate in this kind of job market or that all white people can. There may well be other factors at play dictating how financially well-to-do minorities are accepted in the business or how likely they are to pick a fine dining career in the first place. But trading wealth for opportunity and ultimately more wealth is a hallmark of the American economy, and not just in the restaurant business. It's just particularly blatant in fine dining, and it excludes a lot of people..

                                                                                                                                              1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                I was going to make this argument but didn't know enough about staging to follow it through. It seems to me that the staging system requires its participants to either have an outside source of income or be willing to work another additional job (which probably isn't realistic, or at least would be very difficult). I would love to see data on the demographics of stagiers, although I'm pretty sure that doesn't exist.

                                                                                                                                          3. in los angeles, ethiopian restaurants are touted with gusto. there even is a section of town that is called "little ethiopia." there are "regular" ethiopian restaurtants, there is a vegan ethiopian restaurant, etc.

                                                                                                                                            also, you could easily start a riot over which mexican restaurant served the best xxxxx.

                                                                                                                                            the various koreatown restaurants are discussed vociferously on a regular basis.

                                                                                                                                            the tremendous number of chinese restaurants in the SGV are a source of INCESSANT discussion.

                                                                                                                                            indian food, in Los Angeles, and in the wider LA basin is also a topic that gets discussed every few days.

                                                                                                                                            truly, i don't know what you're talking about.

                                                                                                                                            maybe move to los angeles?

                                                                                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                                                                                            1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                                                                              Maybe, but are any of those Ethiopian restaurants serving food that is rated highly by the LA Times? And what about African-American food? Rumor has it there are quite few black people in LA. Are there any soul food restaurants in the LA Times Top FIfty or whatever list they come up with? When I say soul food, it doesn't have to be a dive, but even a medium-to-upscale place?

                                                                                                                                              And of the trendy, upscale places, how common is it to find a black host or hostess? A waiter?

                                                                                                                                              The LA Board on Chowhound is definitely the most active 'old-style' Board, so I am already familiar with the fact that you folks rock.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                                                Not only do we rock, we aren't reliant on the LA Times. By the way, isn't this one of DC's most well known restaurants:


                                                                                                                                                1. re: JAB

                                                                                                                                                  Ben's Chili Bowl is indeed DC's most famous restaurant. I had my kids take me their for Father's Day once, and I have been there many, many times. However, I tell visiing Chowhounds to go to Oohhs and Aahhs instead if they really are interested in great food.

                                                                                                                                                2. re: Steve

                                                                                                                                                  I just did a review of the last LA Times 101 restaurants list and about 40% were "ethnic" restaurants - a big part of that Asian and Latino, but there is a barbecue place and and an Ethiopian place as well. It's not perfect, but I would say the LA Times is better than most.

                                                                                                                                                3. re: westsidegal

                                                                                                                                                  this is what I was thinking. what is he/she talking about? One of the greatest blessings of lving in southern California (I just returned last night from a trip to Minnesota) is our diversity of available foods. All ethnicities, Little Tokyo, Little Saigon, Thai Town, etc. East Los Angeles is the second largest Mexican populated city, Mexico City being first.
                                                                                                                                                  No shortage of black food here. I keep thinking "Aunt Kizzy's Back Porch" I don't know if its black or white owned, but the fried chicken is the best, and I met Little Richard there once.

                                                                                                                                                4. Chow hound was the one place in this social media sphere where I felt like I didn't have to talk or defend myself for being black. I could *black out* and just talk about spatchcocking a chicken. You ruined it. Signed a black foodie.

                                                                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                  1. re: blueways

                                                                                                                                                    Sorry 'bout that. If I saw black people being hired at all the trendy 'foodie' restaurants that crop up on a daily basis in DC, I might not have said anything. I can only think of one place that I've been recently - and it surprised me. That's what made me post.

                                                                                                                                                    I am willing to admit this is unscientific, but it does have a traditional basis in the restaurant industry. Upper end restaurants have long been the bastion of all-white hiring practices.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                                                      "If I saw black people being hired at all the trendy 'foodie' restaurants that crop up on a daily basis in DC, I might not have said anything. I can only think of one place that I've been recently - and it surprised me. That's what made me post."

                                                                                                                                                      oh, got it now....'trendy, 'foodie' covers it for you. There's a whole bigger world. Black (and Latino and Asian...) people aren't waiting for the 'foodie' world to acknowledge they exist. They're out doing it. Eventually the hip-cuisine/foodie world will catch up.
                                                                                                                                                      maybe you too.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: kariin

                                                                                                                                                        I am constantly exploring in Washington DC and environs. I go to places that I hear about on Chowhound, and I explore on my own to places and neighborhoods that receive no fanfare. If I see a place I've never heard of, I'll at least take a peak in or look it up if I'm not at meal time.

                                                                                                                                                        If you have any suggestions in the DC area, I'd be happy to hear about them.

                                                                                                                                                  2. Lots of prominent and highly touted African American chefs and restaurant owners here in NC. I think your premise is silly.

                                                                                                                                                    10 Replies
                                                                                                                                                    1. re: carolinadawg

                                                                                                                                                      I'm not sure I get the leap from (assuming by "lots" you mean close to 1 in 5) proportional minority restaurant ownership to the conclusion that considering the existence of racism in, and around, the restaurant industry is "silly". Does it matter where the restaurants are in the State? The type of food offered and price points? In my experience, Charlotte's trendy restaurant scene does not seem to mirror the population very well - but that's just more anecdotal evidence.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                                                        It's silly because I don't care, and 99% of the time don't know, the race, gender, age, national origin or sexual orientation of the chef or owner of the restaurants I frequent, yet off the top of my head I could name a half dozen or more that I do know are owned and operated by African Americans.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: carolinadawg

                                                                                                                                                          The fact that you chose to respond to the thread belies the notion that you don't care. The substance of what you chose to respond suggests you simply just don't want to know.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                                                            I said I don't care about the race of the chef or owner of the restaurants I eat in, meaning if they are white, black, green or purple it doesn't impact me in any way. My posting on this thread doesn't negate, change or impact that in any way. I do disagree with the notion that some sort of systemic racism is present in the restaurant business that excludes African Americans from working in, or owning, restaurants, which seems to be one of the points the OP is postulating.

                                                                                                                                                            No idea what you are attempting to get at with your last sentence. I guess your just trolling me. Sorry, won't work.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: carolinadawg

                                                                                                                                                              Now come on, dawg. Surely you don't respond to everything you don't understand with accusations and vitriol? I may be an arrogant, long-winded ass with a drinking problem (after all, I've earned all of that), but I'm no troll.

                                                                                                                                                              If you'll allow me to elaborate, and resolve the misunderstanding borne out of my terseness?

                                                                                                                                                              You labeled the premise "silly" and explained it by noting the fact that you "don't care". My apologies, but I took that to mean you don't care about the premise. I now understand that you don't care about the race or ethnicity of the restaurants' owners, staff, etc. That's nobel, you're not a racist.

                                                                                                                                                              The difficulty arises when you then make the leap from "I am not a racist" and personal observation in a limited geographic area to the conclusion that there is "no systemic racism . . . that excludes . . . ." It is the conclusion you are comfortable with, hell it may even be a correct one, but it is predicated upon a leap. Leaving aside the fact that that is considered a "classic fallacy", it's also a way of shutting down the inquiry. Your belief is your belief. Fine. In the end, however, "you simply just don't want to know".

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                                                                No, you don't get to tell me what I think, or what I want to know.

                                                                                                                                                                So put the words "in my experience and in my opinion" in front of what I said, and we'll be all good. That should be a given in the first place.

                                                                                                                                                                Lets end it now, ok?

                                                                                                                                                              2. re: carolinadawg

                                                                                                                                                                The systemic racism enters the field like it does in the movies. Is a movie using color-blind casting? Then there is probably no racism involved and you'll see it on the screen.

                                                                                                                                                                But most Hollywood movies do not use color-blind casting policies, and aside from a few box-office stars, black actors are finding surprisingly little work in the movies.

                                                                                                                                                                A lot of jobs in the 'real world' are cast, almost as you would a movie. If you have in mind the sort of person that would fit the job, you are more likely to 'cast' that individual. Does not mean you hate black people or you are 'excluding' them (a rather severe standard) , but it does mean you are more likely to hire based on a pre-conceived notion.

                                                                                                                                                                That goes for food critics especially.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                                                                  Keep chasing that boogeyman, Steve, keep chasing.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: carolinadawg

                                                                                                                                                                    i don't mind a real argument. So do you have an issue with color-blind casting, or do you think that it only applies to movies and not in the restaurant world? I am not clear.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                                                                      I can't help but feel the analogy to the film industry is not an apt one.

                                                                                                                                                                      film is a largely visual medium and a highly commercial one, casting follows the dollar not the ideal. In the food world, nobody in their right mind gives a crap what anyone's skin color is from the front door to the back, seated or serving, as long as the food and service are good.

                                                                                                                                                                      a better analogy would be architecture. there are plenty of black people in engineering and construction (on the so-called 'white-collar' side) but very few designing. in school there were maybe 2 in my year (out of about 120) and 1 switched to mechanical engineering as it would eventually pay better and that dep't wasn't a bunch of maniacs - can't say as I blamed her, but those numbers weren't due to acceptance policies or internal exclusions.

                                                                                                                                                      2. I think this is a very interesting topic, Steve. I am not sure if I can answer some of the questions you pose, but I do think there are some things worth noting.

                                                                                                                                                        Initially, I submit that there are clearly vestiges of racism in trendy, contemporary food culture, but they are more "symptom" than "disease". As cowboyardee suggests, these problems are primarily socio-economic. This subculture is fueled by the luxury of disposable income. The luxury is disproportionately enjoyed by white and Asian households. Consequently, those who participate most in "dining out" as pastime or hobby are member of those racial groups. The underlying disproportion is the consequence of racism, both past and present.

                                                                                                                                                        Given the precarious financial endeavor that is a restaurant business, I do not believe most proprietors are too concerned about the color of the money they use to pay their bills. Nonetheless, I am certain, as in all areas of life, and from both sides of the racial divide, that there are unsavory acts being committed. I mean, there are assholes and bigots in every area of life, why wouldn't some of them own restaurants?

                                                                                                                                                        I do feel like DC is a tough place to extrapolate much from. It is, after all, practically a neo-Dickensian capital of "have and have not". The division is largely, historically and lastingly, on racial lines. In the District, dollars vote on lunch as much as they do legislation. In both cases, the cash may funnel in from outside, but it tends to recycle through the same half of the pockets.

                                                                                                                                                        I have no real experience with front of the house staff issues, but I do see that as a particularly interesting notion and one where progress is more realistic. We all accept that looks play a part in the hiring and retention of staff at many places. Is it possible that, on one level or another, race is one of those appearance factors considered? I'd certainly say "Yes". In a job market favoring capital and with jobs that require little experience or education, pretext is easy to hide behind.

                                                                                                                                                        I am of the mindset that we are past the point of diners avoiding an establishment because they "don't want that colored boy touching my food", or at least past the point where they say it out loud. Nevertheless, there remain significant problems in our society and I can fathom no explanation why they would not permeate either the culture or business of food.

                                                                                                                                                        1. I think you ask some really interesting questions. I live on the other side of the Pond now, but I find some trends are the same.
                                                                                                                                                          In a "foodie" restaurant, the clientele is overwhelmingly white. In the kind of "serious" restaurants where the kitchen is in view, or where they sit customers at the bar where you can watch the kitchen, the chefs/cooks tilt towards mostly white (thought I do notice the bussers, dishwashers, etc., at home in SF skew Hispanic).

                                                                                                                                                          I think the numbers of black diners, hosts/hostesses, chefs, food writers are low not because of some gatekeeping or overt racism (thought I do not deny that some of that must exist). I think the numbers are low because a whole host of socioeconomic factors combine to make it so. Let's face it, we all know you can eat well cheaply, but what do you think the average income of the people on this board is, compared to the national average? What's the average income of Twitter followers who get news on where the latest great food truck is, compared to the national average? What about compared to the national black average income?
                                                                                                                                                          How many eager young chefs start their restaurants with money borrowed from friends or family? What's the ratio of accepted vs rejected bank loans for a business if you're black vs white?

                                                                                                                                                          Is there also some social factor where black people simply aren't as interested in food as a hobby as white people? I don't know.

                                                                                                                                                          Sorry, I haven't answered any of your questions; I just asked more.

                                                                                                                                                          21 Replies
                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Palladium

                                                                                                                                                            "What's the ratio of accepted vs rejected bank loans for a business if you're black vs white?"

                                                                                                                                                            I had sort of omitted that notion in my response a few minutes ago, if only for the sake of brevity. It is unquestionably true that access to capital is more restrictive for those with less money and education. This is a clear impediment. Again, we return to the notion that the problems exist at a macrosocietal level and, at this time, awareness is of primary importance for our micro- bubble.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                                                              Funny that the Indians with little or no capital and no formal education have been able to take advantage of SBA loans and taken over the Dunkin Donuts, Subways Shops & 711 stores. Oh, and lets not forget the special tax status they enjoy.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Tom34

                                                                                                                                                                Crazy. Maybe they all should've been murdered instead like the rest of their kin.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                                                                                  I don't know where you are going with all that Linguafood, I am simply defending this Country against all the excuse mongers. Even with our faults, the US offers more economic opportunity than just about every other country in the world. Determination and a strong work ethic are key. Clearly many immigrants have both and after a period of self sacrifice getting a business off the ground they are quite successful. Many would argue that is because where they come from if one does not work, one does not eat.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Tom34

                                                                                                                                                                    Tom, clearly you're an individualist. Fine. Truth be told, I've got a violent existentialist streak. Just keep in mind that passion is not a substitute for reason. Faith should not preclude the necessity of examination.

                                                                                                                                                                    As to the basic point you're making, I agree, opportunity exists. Certainly race has become less of a barrier to opportunity over time, but those who are willing to consider its continued impact upon our society are not "excuse mongers". The invective really diminishes the effectiveness of what you're trying to say.

                                                                                                                                                                    Moreover, you don't need to defend the Country from people with whom you disagree. Solutions are generally found through the dialectic. When you identify the value of hard work, you make a salient point. Nevertheless, when you assert that it is the absence of a work ethic that is responsible for economic disparity, you're failing to accept that there may be other factors. All things are never truly equal.

                                                                                                                                                                    Our society is not and has never been perfect - the curse of all things organic and finite, I guess. Reasonable minds can and should disagree as to how to improve it, but they must always agree to consider doing so. Kinda like a sandwich - it's best to think the ultimate one is always still out there to search for.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                                                                      Actually I and many others do in fact feel that our great Country does need defending from elitist who feel the need to constantly attack it.

                                                                                                                                                                      My father's mother was a poor French Canadian transplant on the St Lawrence who's father harvested Ice during the winter and Sturgeon during the thaw. They had an out house and his shoes were held together with rope. My grandmother and her family collectively learned English and my grandmother eventually went to nursing school.

                                                                                                                                                                      My mother's mom was 1 of 13. Their father was a coal miner in rural PA and lost his arm at age 13 after which he got an office job with the mining Co. They got paid in Co script. As poor as they were, they sat around every night and studied together.

                                                                                                                                                                      My point is that at some point in time everyone was mistreated and went through hard times. Was the discrimination against Blacks real, damn right it was. Clearly one of the darkest parts of our Countries history.

                                                                                                                                                                      My problem is that the very programs the Gov (JFK & LBJ & to some extent RMN) put in place to correct a HORRIBLE wrong made a bad situation worse. The end result, destruction of the Black family and self determination, is almost as bad as slavery itself. Many very prominent Blacks have expressed the same opinion.

                                                                                                                                                                      Rehashing old ivory tower theories has not and will not solve the problem. At this point its pablum.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Tom34

                                                                                                                                                                        "The end result, destruction of the Black family and self determination, is almost as bad as slavery itself."

                                                                                                                                                                        Enough said about your view point.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                                          As I stated, also the view point of many black scholars who have extensively studied the subject.

                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: Tom34

                                                                                                                                                                          another vote for sticking with picking cotton then?

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Insidious Rex

                                                                                                                                                                            It's a tough call. Would I rather:

                                                                                                                                                                            1) have welfare available if I need it or

                                                                                                                                                                            2) be brutally and repeatedly raped by my master, forced to bear his child, watch my children be sold at 10, bullwhipped when they try to come back to me and do back breaking work 20 hours a day. But hey for almost three squares a day, a deal!

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                                              (or) have no traditional family support, flunk out of school functionally illiterate, be sucked up into a vacuum of prostitution and substance abuse if your a girl or join a gang if your a boy, deal drugs, spend half your life in prison & the rest in the hospital recovering from gun shot wounds until finally at age 30 the bullet hits critical real estate and you end up in a pine box.

                                                                                                                                                                              Read the UCR for the criminal stats and talk veteran inner city cops. Talk to an ER Doctor or ER nurse in a big city level I trauma hospital. My wife worked in one as an RN & her brother as a MD. The helicopters couldn't land soon enough. Tour a place like Children's Hospital in Philadelphia and see hundreds of brain damaged crack addicted infants and children. My wife's sister has been an RN there for 22 years.

                                                                                                                                                                              Your comparison is childish and completely insensitive to the reality of what is happening every 5 minutes today.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Tom34

                                                                                                                                                                                Well, when you put it that way it certainly takes the shine off it.

                                                                                                                                                                                To make this tangent about food, I propose you go to those entrepreneurs of Soul Food in your community (you Googled 17, right?) and ask them or their customers if they think their community might be worse off now than with slavery. If they don't think so, you can trot out your personal family history of resolve and ethical hard work and convince them with evidence of the hundreds of crack babies being born. Make sure you ask them to talk to veteran inner city cops, because they may not have met any.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                                                                                  The people who live there don't need a reminder, they see it every day. Its the politicians and ivory tower crowd who live out in horse country (the Main Line) hopping country clubs and chasing foxes on horses who haven't stepped foot in North or West Philly in 50 yrs who need to see result of well intended but failed programs.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Tom34

                                                                                                                                                                                    You insist on not relating your posts to food in any way, plus you insist on speaking for others. Your theories are no less Ivory Tower, and I mean that in the whitest sense possible.

                                                                                                                                                                                    'Trust me, they were better off.' Ok, doc, but I just may want to get a second opinion.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Tom34

                                                                                                                                                                                      Poverty, not "crack babies", is the biggest problem for AA these days.


                                                                                                                                                                                      Of course, if the US still had slavery, this would not be something one would have to worry about. Especially as a white person.

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Steve

                                                                                                                                                                                      Exactly--on one hand arguing that African Americans are well represented in the food community as restauranteurs and on the other saying they'd be better off under slavery.

                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: Palladium

                                                                                                                                                                    The 'open kitchen' question is an interesting place to look. Again, in a completely unscientific way, I don't think I am likely to see a black employee in that situation.

                                                                                                                                                                    I believe there is endemic racism. Like for Hollywood movies. White audiences have proven they will not go see a movie with a predominantly black cast unless it gets rave reviews. So a producer is unlikely to make a picture unless they add a white character, the so-called savior character.

                                                                                                                                                                    Meanwhile, color-blind casting is reserved for a few superstar celebrities and the rest of the black actor pool is desperate for work.

                                                                                                                                                                    Seeing how intense and fast-rising the foodie culture is, it seems to be an area of economic opportunity that black people are being shunted from.

                                                                                                                                                                    Apparently there are quite a few Chowhounds who disagree or are dismissve of the issue entirely.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Palladium

                                                                                                                                                                      I agree that socio economic factors play a strong role in this matter but one thing that is interesting about the DC area is the abundance of highly educated, economically successful, business owning black Americans who certainly have the financial means to eat at trendy foodie joints if they so choose. So do their kids.

                                                                                                                                                                      I've worked for 20 years in the government contracting world, mainly for minority-owned small and mid-sized businesses. These businesses are filled with smart, affluent blacks, not to mention government itself being a place that is more color blind that some industries. I don't know the answers to Steve's questions but I think they are interesting ones. The picture he posted of 14th street BBQ place is a prime example of the love/hate relationship the city has with gentrification.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: tcamp

                                                                                                                                                                        Though I don't doubt the truths you've offered, the fact is that the per capita income of Whites in DC is more than twice that of African-Americans (roughly 65k to 25k in '09). See, e.g., http://www.city-data.com/income/incom...

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                                                                          Many of the people I mentioned live outside of DC proper in Prince Georges, Montgomery and Fairfax counties, just like their economically-similar white counterparts. In DC itself, you're right.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: tcamp

                                                                                                                                                                            It doesn't change much. For example, the average income in PG County is 32k.

                                                                                                                                                                            Thing is, tcamp, It'd be much better if I wasn't right about any of these facts.

                                                                                                                                                                    2. There are many studies on leisure activities, race, economics, and culture. I am not sure why you would think food is "the last great bastion".... The same things could be said about chess playing, museum curators, equestrians, golf (Hi Tiger, you're unique) auto racing, wine, etc.....no last bastion of anything. Leisure activities are very much divided along lines of gender, race, rich, poor, middle class, etc.

                                                                                                                                                                      Most people studying these things think differences in tastes are socially reinforced and are partly due to the byproduct of institutionalized racism and sexism for so many years.

                                                                                                                                                                      Black homes don't have photos of grandpa with golf clubs, stories of aunt Margaret winning trophies for swimming competitions, they don't have wine spectator on the coffee table, etc.

                                                                                                                                                                      Edit: I would add that some of these things are changing (thankfully) and wouldn't it be great if food eventually becomes the common tie....almost everyone loves food :)

                                                                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: sedimental

                                                                                                                                                                        "I would add that some of these things are changing (thankfully) and wouldn't it be great if food eventually becomes the common tie....almost everyone loves food :)"

                                                                                                                                                                        I agree with you that all (sub)cultures tend to care about food. It's also worth noting that not all cultures consider restaurant-style fine dining the epitome of a good meal, or even appealing. The OP seems to be looking mainly at fine dining and peripheral economies that support fine dining (restaurant critics, for example). If that's not what you consider a great meal, then it's a lot less likely that you'll search out a job in that industry or form common ties with people whose main expression of the their interest in food comes in the form of fine dining.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: sedimental

                                                                                                                                                                          Ok, so here is why I think it's the last great bastion: because being a waiter or host or kitchen worker or chef or food critic should be easily accessible jobs for African-Americans. in terms of location (city), pay scale, educational requirements, you name it, the foodie craze which is extremely lucrative and taking place smack dab in the middle of cities seems to be white European in nature. It seems to be leaving behind the very folks who actually live or lived in these neighborhoods.

                                                                                                                                                                          So a guy walks into a bar....that's me. And sees a black hostress, The waiter is black, another waiter is black, the bartender is black. Honestly, I think this was the first time ever in DC I have seen more than one black person working at the same restaurant that had mostly white people eating there.

                                                                                                                                                                          While I believe there is probably a lack of black museum curators, golf pros and thoroughbred trainers, I somehow think that the food business is more impactful.

                                                                                                                                                                          From the play Clybourne Park:

                                                                                                                                                                          "KARL: I can tell you, in all the time I've been there, I have not once seen a colored family on those slopes. Now, what accounts for that? Certainly not any deficit in ability, so what I have to conclude is that for some reason, there is just something about the pastime of skiing that doesn't appeal to the Negro community. And feel free to prove me wrong… But you'll have to show me where to find the skiing Negroes."

                                                                                                                                                                        2. WTF is African American cuisine and African American restaurants? And why pull Jamaican cuisine into the mix?

                                                                                                                                                                          Burkina Faso
                                                                                                                                                                          Cape Verde
                                                                                                                                                                          Central African Rep.
                                                                                                                                                                          Congo (Brazzaville)
                                                                                                                                                                          Congo (DRC, Zaire)
                                                                                                                                                                          Cote d'Ivoire
                                                                                                                                                                          Equatorial Guinea
                                                                                                                                                                          Sao Tome & Principe
                                                                                                                                                                          Sierra Leone
                                                                                                                                                                          South Africa
                                                                                                                                                                          Western Sahara

                                                                                                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Bellachefa

                                                                                                                                                                            In Washington, DC, I would say Oohhs and Aahhs and Langston Bar and Grill are two examples of African-American restaurants.

                                                                                                                                                                            You can Gooogle Image either place.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                                                                              Well perhaps you yourself are the last bastion of racism, as I would not define either of those as African-American cuisine.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Bellachefa

                                                                                                                                                                                I do not disclaim racism on my part because I believe one always has to be vigilant about it. It's not enough for someone to say "I am not a racist" because it's when you let your guard down that it is far too convenient to do what is comfortable, ie, associate with PLU.

                                                                                                                                                                                So tell me, how do I err in thinking of either of these places as African-American? The woman who first started O&A, India Abbot Wilson is from Coastal Carolina and started cooking the food she grew up with from her community, decidedly African-American. I was one of her first customers. She is rarely there any more, and her husband has taken over the kitchen, but the food remains the same.

                                                                                                                                                                          2. How about the last bastion of discrimination? Age. I'm a 50's white male and there is zero chance of me being hired at a regional chain. Everyone is college age, and yes many are black. It's an upscale place, by the way.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. Steve, I just trolled your profile and noticed your favorite restaurants. Two Asian, an Indian, soul, and Jamaican. Would they hire a second generation Pole like myself or my Hispanic wifeacita?

                                                                                                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: James Cristinian

                                                                                                                                                                                Your implication simply supports the fact that racism exists in restaurant hiring.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                                                                                  At certain ethnic restaurants, however I encounter black, white, Asian and Hispanic wait staff in most restaurants.

                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: James Cristinian

                                                                                                                                                                                  I am very symathetic to your situation, and you make a very valid point.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Of course, black people get old too.

                                                                                                                                                                                3. One of the interesting factors here is the interplay between ingrained attitudes of the dining public, food marketing when it comes to high profile restaurants, and racial/cultural heritage of the people making the food.

                                                                                                                                                                                  The notion of 'authenticity' plays a big role in food marketing because it effectively sells food and puts butts in chairs. In the obvious sense, some people like to eat food exactly as it was made traditionally in some various culture. This first kind of 'authenticity' has been critiqued half to death, but there is another kind of authenticity that is even harder to shake among diners: cooking with 'soul,' 'love,' 'with a deep personal connection to your food,'... however you want to put it. Cut out a little piece of your soul and put it on a plate (or at least tell people that's what you're doing) and it will sell. OTOH, tell the media you cook something because it's trendy and has good profit margins and you're especially good at making it (which are perfectly good reasons, if you ask me) - that's PR suicide. You're a fake, an opportunist, soulless. And in the eyes of many, you are assumed not be as good at cooking your cuisine of choice.

                                                                                                                                                                                  This affects the demographics of the restaurant business. If you want to prepare 'traditional' sushi in a high-profile joint, it sure helps to be Japanese. An African American chef might have an easier time selling soul food than she would selling Thai. A white chef might have a hard time convincing locals that his taco truck offers a product just as good as the one run by Mexicans down the street... but he can get away with selling fusion or European style fine dining a lot more easily. And between a taco truck and a fine dining restaurant, which has the potential to push more wine sales and be a higher profile, higher profit business?

                                                                                                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                                                    I was mostly thinking of all those industrial chic restaurants featuring "Modern American" cuisine, which seems far removed from the provenance of any one ethnicity.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Is this not happening in other cities?

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                                                                                      I don't really claim to know. But my gut instinct tells me that 'Modern American' might be easier to sell with a white chef at its helm than a minority one. It's not just a matter of whether your background justifies (or appears to justify) the food you're selling but also whether the food you're selling appears to represent your assumed background. Perhaps ironically, white chefs might be carrying less cultural baggage in the eyes of their customers.

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                                                      This is hardly fine dining, but an interesting data point - I have been in Tom Yum District (in Rosslyn - a suburb of DC - fast food with a Thai slant) when the person working the counter and the chef were both African American.

                                                                                                                                                                                      I remember a Washington Post article not too long ago that stated that most of the restaurants in Eden Center (Vietnamese shopping center in the DC area) are hiring Hispanic cooks because the younger Vietnamese don't necessarily want to work in restaurants.

                                                                                                                                                                                      The Rays group of restaurants seems to have a fair number of African American servers.

                                                                                                                                                                                      And there are a fair amount of African American chefs on the reality shows - one who comes to mind (from the DC area) is Timothy Dean, who, IIRC, has alleged that there is racism in this business.

                                                                                                                                                                                    3. get out of dc, steve. you'll find your answer -- and more likely in the south. (and that means, there are lots of black restaurateurs in the south).

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. First off, this isn't just about African Americans. If you're going to cry "racism", don't single out African Americans -- talk about the Hispanics, Indians, and Iranians too.

                                                                                                                                                                                        FWIW, I don't think it's all about hiring practices. A restaurant will hire a qualified/trained person. How many African Americans go to culinary school to become a chef? If a culinary school has 10% African Americans, 20% Asians, and 70% Caucasians, then the issue starts there. As for food critics -- same thing. How many African Americans pursue a degree in English or Journalism? Who is encouraging African Americans and other minorities to get into the food industry? I know in Indian culture, someone who cooks or works in a restaurant isn't considered to be "successful". Most indian parents want their kids to be doctors, lawyers, engineers, or businessmen. Chefs, fashion designers, and DJs just aren't on the "success" plan. (I say this from experience.)

                                                                                                                                                                                        Here in LA, we have many Hispanics working in restaurants. You'll also see many Middle Easterners, Armenians, and Caucasians. and yes, I do see African Americans as well. I think it depends on where one lives too -- you have a bigger percentage of Armenians living and working here in LA, compared to Phoenix. So, therefore, you would see a higher number of Armenians working in our restaurants compared to Phoenix restaurants.

                                                                                                                                                                                        I think instead of claiming it's a racism issue due to hiring practices, one should look at why minority members aren't pursuing these fields. Why aren't minority parents and mentors encouraging their family and friends to go to culinary school?

                                                                                                                                                                                        10 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: boogiebaby

                                                                                                                                                                                          "If a culinary school has 10% African Americans, 20% Asians, and 70% Caucasians, then the issue starts there."
                                                                                                                                                                                          "Why aren't minority parents and mentors encouraging their family and friends to go to culinary school?"
                                                                                                                                                                                          Have you talked to any industry insiders recently about the ROI on culinary school?

                                                                                                                                                                                          FWIW, I don't actually disagree with your post. But it might be just as relevant to ask why anyone goes to culinary school at all, given the cost of the education vs the wages of a graduate.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                                                            But ROI on culinary school is not what this thread is about. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                            I know a couple people who went to culinary school and became known chefs in the LA area. Both have said that they learned more from their hands-on experience workin in restaurants, but they couldn't get a job as a soux chef/apprentice anywhere without having a culinary degree on their resume.

                                                                                                                                                                                            I would think (and assume) that people don't go to culinary school for the ROI, but rather for the love of food.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: boogiebaby

                                                                                                                                                                                              "But ROI on culinary school is not what this thread is about."
                                                                                                                                                                                              It's not necessarily unrelated.

                                                                                                                                                                                              As opposed to a lot of fields where minorities were historically excluded, there is very little financial impetus to pursue a career in fine dining.

                                                                                                                                                                                              As with other careers where minorities were traditionally excluded, there's not much passive social pressure to pursue fine dining (if you don't see people in your community heading fine dining restaurants, you're just less likely to consider it as a career).

                                                                                                                                                                                              And if your culture doesn't care for fine dining restaurants, you might love food, but a fine dining career is not likely to be how you express that love.
                                                                                                                                                                                              There's a kind of assumption throughout much of this thread that caring about food or even pursuing a career in food will invariably lead to an interest in fine dining. Not so.

                                                                                                                                                                                              The point is that there are relatively few motivating factors actually pushing many minorities into this particular field in the first place. Culinary school ROI is just one less.

                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                                                              Perhaps if we all supported CCAP:
                                                                                                                                                                                              there would be more minorities in the industry?

                                                                                                                                                                                              I know this organization is very active in Philadelphia (and actively supported by the top chefs and restauranteurs).

                                                                                                                                                                                              They recently held a competition for city students with culinary scholarships as awards.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: gaffk

                                                                                                                                                                                                as seen in the movie Pressure Cooker

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: girloftheworld

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I"ll have to keep an eye out for that one.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: girloftheworld

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Thanks for the recc. I watched this last night - very good.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: tcamp

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I keep waiting for a "hollywood version"

                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: gaffk

                                                                                                                                                                                                    C-CAP started in New York, and operates in 7 locations across the US. They've graduated several hundred young men and women, most of whom are working in the indursty, some of them prominently. http://www.ccapinc.org/locations.php

                                                                                                                                                                                              2. We hired a black president. I don't get this thread.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: emglow101

                                                                                                                                                                                                  If it's cool with you, I'm just going to appreciate that as laudably deft satire.

                                                                                                                                                                                                2. Interesting examples you've given. And you did't touch on sexism in the industry at all.


                                                                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: pedalfaster

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Good point. More fodder for this thread.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. Your rant is ridiculous unless you can give examples of minority food writers or chefs who have been ignored. If you can, please share. If black people were being systematically excluded from positions as hosts at restaurants, we'd hear about it in the form of lawsuits. I really do not understand where you are coming from.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    16 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Ah, so if I can name ten African-American or other minority restaurants that are or have been ignored by the press, either extant ones or places that have since closed, you will admit that my premise is not ridiculous?

                                                                                                                                                                                                      As far as writers are concerned, many food writers did not start out as such. They were proverbially 'handed the keys to the car' by editors even if they had no little or no experience food writing. This happens in small town publications most often, but even reaches as far as big cities. I believe Frank Bruni of the NY Times falls under this category:


                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                                                                                                        But..... it is ridiculous.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        It has nothing to do with racism.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: kpaxonite

                                                                                                                                                                                                          You are being dismissive. I am just trying to put two and two together: Foodies are rarely African-American. Upscale restaurants have few African-American clients. Newspapers are highly unlikely to hire an African-American as their food critic and maybe have never done so. Trendy and/or upscale restaurants want to reflect a particular image. And then when I go to these restaurants, I see almost exclusively chefs, hosts, and others who are not African-American.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Could be many other reasons I suppose, but to flat out say there is no racism involved seems odd to me. Especially since the history of it all suggests otherwise.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                                                                                                              "A ridiculous premise deserves to be dismissed."

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Unilaterally declaring a premise ridiculous does not make it so (even if, as in this case, it was not particularly artfully worded in the first place). You're simply affirming your own conclusion with your own conclusion. "I don't believe it so it's not worth considering", if you will.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Given that (a) it is undeniable that racism has existed and (b) there is testimonial, statistical, and circumstantial evidence establishing that there is a disproportionately low number of AA diners, owners, and staff in restaurants at, and above, a certain price point, there is a valid basis for inquiry. The fact that there may be other explanations for the evidence does not make the premise ridiculous, it just resolves the inquiry.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Part of the problem seems to lie in your definition of racism: "Racism is systematic discrimination." It's not. "Racism" is a belief. "Discrimination" is an act. "Systemic discrimination" is similarly an act, but can manifest without individual intent because it has become built into an organization or culture. "Systematic discrimination", another act, actually requires concerted intent among individuals to the point of having developed a method or plan.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: Steve

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Steve - I think you need to remember "correlation is not causation" so the data points are well observed but the hypothesis is flawed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              My observation of food is that it is a unifying medium. People from different cultures will almost always sit down and enjoy food together, form bonds and develop relationships.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              So in the main I doubt there is any conscious or unconscious racism. BUT and it's a big but people can be disadvanted as a result of structural, historic or other indirect reasons. So access to training, jobs, capital etc may not be equal. And if these things are in themselves tricky it can demotivate and put people off. Without the desire and ambition success in food is hard to achieve.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Fixing that is far from easy and not quick. But I doubt anyone interested on food would think its a bad thing to do, and I bet many would welcome opportunities to make it happen.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              And as I don't live in the US, a question. Are there celebrated role models? Karinn's list looks impressive but are many of them household names who are seen on TV and across the media? Without that happening you won't see the change in ambition that encourages new talent.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: PhilD

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Change at the top doesn't always mean change elsewhere which is why I referenced the notorious disparity in movies between African-American names 'above the title' and below.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                The other thing I find interesting is that many Chowhounds do not seem to realize that the job of restaurant critic is not an 'open-hire' at most publications. It is not listed with a title and job number at Human Resources, and you don't fill out an application. The restautant critic is usually hand-picked by an editor.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: Steve

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Start with this:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                "Foodies are rarely African-American. Upscale restaurants have few African-American clients."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                And add "Hence..."Newspapers are highly unlikely to hire an African-American as their food critic and maybe have never done so...I see almost exclusively chefs, hosts, and others who are not African-American."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I think it's a self-selecting group. People who are foodies tend to get jobs in the restaurant business. If African Americans choose not to go into the business, it could be lack of interest. Not many Asians in the NFL. Is it self-selecting that they don't choose to or racism? FWIW, my parents lived in Alabama in the 80's. The thing I noticed in nicer restaurants was that people who were serving were African Americans. The patrons were white, except for my family. That felt far more insitutionally racist.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  (Story coming up only vaguely tangentially related to discussion.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I worked a very brief summer job at a restaurant in the Pearl District in PDX (in the mid-90s, "before it was cool, man"). I and the other waitress were the only non-black people working there. The clientele was mostly black, with a few white people every once in a while. I can't remember now what it was called, but it was pretty casual and served what could be broadly described as southern US food.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I remember having a conversation with the chef that could have been one of the rants here- she went on and on about how people nowadays couldn't or wouldn't cook: "They don't even know how to make a mac 'n cheese! I mean, mac 'n cheese!- what could be simpler?!"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  At the time, I was just a year into college and out of my Chinese family home, and had no clue how to make mac 'n cheese, so I kept my mouth shut.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    re: Alabama
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    There are elements of the Charleston SC dining scene that can make it feel like a antebellum theme park.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    There are certainly black waitstaff there, and I think it's often to maintain/ fulfill an image [even if subconsciously].

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Kris in Beijing

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Isn't that the image Paula Deen referred to in discussing a dream wedding?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: Steve

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Unless you can backup your many sweeping generalizations with hard evidence, I doubt that anyone will take you seriously. "Foodies are rarely African-American?" Sounds like a pretty racist comment to me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Observing racial differences isn't intrinsically racist.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I am not sure what 'hard evidence' I could possibly have aside from..... Chowhounds themselves.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            You never made one.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The OP raises a series of questions for discussion. Offers his own ideas.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Some folks discuss the ideas, pro and con.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Others settle for taking swipes that are non sequiturs..

                                                                                                                                                                                                              3. One more time: Co-variance does not imply correlation; Correlation does not imply causality.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Just because two sets of percentages do not equal one another does not in the slightest imply that there is any "ism" involved, that either one is too high or too low, or that they ought to be equal.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Just as a poor (or good) review for a restaurant (or any other endeavor) by a critic for any outlet, evaluating the establishment, does not imply that said review is the result of any "ism." Perhaps the food just sucks. Or it's a shitty boring movie, for that matter.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Those who are entrenched in their position of seeing the world through "ism" prisms are going to find what they seek, no matter what the facts are.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I assume we should be equally upset that the profiles of the NBA, NFL and MLB do not parallel that of the US.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                12 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: acgold7

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  just going on my own observations in a city that has a huge African-American population. Not looking for correlation, but I am wondering aloud since there is a huge bias in foodie cricles toward Euro paradigms.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Add to that the historic reality of upscale dining and whites-only hiring practices. Or do you refute that as well?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    There used to be slavery here too, but that doesn't mean it still exists.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Hiring by quota never works. Ever. Do you really want your food prepared by someone who was chosen on the basis of their race or ethnicity rather than skill or desire to learn and work hard?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    No hiring manager in his/her right mind would pass over someone who was skilled, simply because he/she didn't like the color of the applicant's skin.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: acgold7

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      "No hiring manager in his/her right mind would pass over someone who was skilled, simply because he/she didn't like the color or the applicant's skin.:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I think it depends on what you consider "right mind." Lots of otherwise sane folks do and have historically done just that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        No one is going to risk his or her business on an underqualified chef while refusing to hire a more qualified one for unrelated reasons. That's just stupid and not believable.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        To cling to the injustices of the past only prolongs the problem.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: acgold7

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Who says that's the inevitable outcome?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I didn't mention any outcome so I'm not sure what you're referring to. I just responded to the assertion that "Lots of otherwise sane folks do" "pass over someone who was skilled, simply because he/she didn't like the color or the applicant's skin."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: acgold7

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Choosing to hire or not hire is an outcome.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: acgold7

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I didn't ask for quotas, so is that a non-sequitor?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          You are noting the disparity between two sets of percentages, so in fact that is what you are asking for. If they were the same you wouldn't have started this thread.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: acgold7

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            My aim was to make people aware of the disparity and point out the flaws of what is going on.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The end result could be any number of things, such as to make white restaurant critics more aware of how their prejudices affect their reviews or the restaurants they choose to cover.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            See, no quota system.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: acgold7

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              That inference doesn't follow for me. One can note disparities to increase thinking and awareness about something, not necessarily to be prescriptive about it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: Steve

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Red Herring - Staw Man/Aunt Sally

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      3. las time i checked, the vast majority of workers in the food world (at least in the usa) were latino/a.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. You don't know much, do you?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          (BTW, yep, racial disc. is real and persistent - so lets combat it by _celebrating _the AA people who are here now - and some who came before, who are amazing writers, thinkers, cooks, chefs, restaurant owners. Spread the word:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          read - know these people: my guess is you don't.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Lolis Eric Elie
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Jessica Harris
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          verta Mae Grosvernor
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Edna Lewis
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Dori Sanders
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Psyche Williams-Forson
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Leah Chase
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Toni Tipton-Martin
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Kathy Starr
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Norma Jean Darden
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Michael w Twitty
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Aliyyah Baylor
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          'Cakeman' Raven
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Sanura Weathers
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Maxcel Hardy
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Devin McDavid
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Marcus Samuelsson
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Tanya Holland
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          B. Smith
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Joe Randall
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Bryant Terry
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Adrian Miller
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Dr. Michael O. Minor
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Libby Clark
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Sandra Lawson
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Joyce White
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Austin Leslie
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Asha Gomez
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Darryl Evans

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          these are just the ones I know of - off the top of my head and w/a google for jogging my memory for spelling.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          There's a whole world you seem oblivious to. A task we could all contribute to is to make every one of these names better known, cause these are great people.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          do you know any of them??

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          15 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: JAB

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Keep adding names - he's one I don't know - can you write about him? thanks JAB

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: kariin

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                He was on Iron Chef America & a guest judge on on one of the Top Chefs. I think he is still the chef for Post & Beam in LA. I went when they had just started their lunch service and the food was a little uneven. However, the meatball appetizer was great.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Kalivs

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Owner / Chef I believe.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: JAB

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Also owner/chef of the very good Willie Jane in Venice.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: kariin

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              That's an impresive list, thanks for sharing that with me.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I live in the Washington, DC area, so the only kitchen I am personally familiar with is B. Smith's. I have heard of Dookie Chase.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              B. Smith had a place in DC that closed fairly recently - talk about getitng ignored by the press! I was the one only one writing about it on Chowhound. I did not eat there often enough to get a good sense of the entire menu, but I completely adored her Swamp Thang and I took visitors there on a couple of occassions. The kind of place that was never deemed good enough by the press.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Like you said, better to give these folks their due and to make them better known. Could it be that Washington DC is an outlier? That here is the one place where African-Americans are not being hired in the restaurant industry?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I appreciate that. good to hear from you.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                some tough comments and questions here - and offered I hope in a positive way - no ax grinding.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Most of the people on that list have _nothing_ to do with DC or where I live either, except for Verta Mae Grosvernor. And I know who they are and consider them important - you?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Your focus seems to be on what you personally see in high-end restaurants in DC and 'celebrity' TV personalities.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I've never eaten at Red Rooster in NY but I know who Marcus Samuelsson is and why he is important as both a creative chef and a black man in the food industry.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                What's with your very narrow focus?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                i gotta say - it snapped my head back to see you write that you've _heard_ of Dooky Chase. WTH??? Dookie's been gone, sadly, for many years. Its Leah Chase who is alive, cooking, writing and signaling the leadership of great african-american cooks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Why don't you know who she is and follow her work? Maybe you do - I don't want to jump to unpleasant conclusions. But it is just weird that you _don't_ know
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                so many of these amazing people.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Lolis Eric Elie is one of the best writers today on food anywhere - do you read him?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                And Will Allen in Milwaukee is having a huge impact on urban food growing and sustainable accessible agriculture. He's a former NBA player who received a McArthur Foundation genius recognition for his work. And you don't know who he is? Why not?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                African american activists are having a powerful impact on food security issue, food deserts, access to fresh food, urban gardens (yeah - in DC too). They are not waiting to be discovered as celebrities by the Food Network or the latest hipster crowd. Here's one:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                www.foodand communityfellows.org

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                There are many many conferences (on minority chefs) conventions, meetings, organizations - lots of activity you seem to know nothing about. Black food journalists and writers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Why don't you know? Can you help? will you help?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Her is one of the best: - check this out - everybody:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Michael W. Twitty

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Let us keep talking/writing to each other. This is a terric way to connect with each other and learn.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: kariin

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  You raise an excellent point about African American/black activists having a powerful impact on food security issues, urban gardens, etc. That is a certainly a significant part of the "food scene" and needs to be considered. The list you posted is great too - lots of new names for me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I will also note that Steve is known on the DC board for his deep knowledge of all types of DC dining - from hole in the wall to high end. As a chowhound who has dined with him numerous times, I know firsthand that his observations are definitely not solely based on high end foodie experiences.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: kariin

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    What is with my very narrow focus?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I know for certain what I see right in front of me. It is very far from what there is to know, and I like that on Chowhound there is always someone like you far more knowledgable than I am. I will look through your links.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: kariin

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      <i gotta say - it snapped my head back to see you write that you've _heard_ of Dooky Chase. WTH??? Dookie's been gone, sadly, for many years. Its Leah Chase who is alive, cooking, writing and signaling the leadership of great african-american cooks.>

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Guess what? Dooky Chase is very much alive. He has never been much involved in the restaurant until Katrina. He and Leah ended up living in a FEMA trailer across the street from the restaurant for a year while they rebuilt the restaurant.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Steve

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Michael W. Twitty is from the Washington DC area & is an excellent food blogger http://afroculinaria.com/about/
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      & while the Mount Vernon Inn is not usually listed on the top restaurant lists for this area, both the director of food & beverage, Jay Quander, & the executive chef, Ryan Wallen, are black. My last lunch there was excellent, although I have no idea of the racial/ ethnic background of the kitchen, because it didn't matter-I was there for the food. (Actually, I was there to visit the gardens that day, & we just ended up eating there).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: thistle5

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        That is an excellent blog--thanks for sharing it. It's possibly one of the most intellectual I've read (far cry from Pioneer Woman). This guy should have a show, and not on Food Network.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          you might also find this blog of interest:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    3. re: kariin

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      From your list . I want to make the fried chicken recipe that Leah Chase made on Julia Child PBS series Cooking with Master Chefs. Looks fantastic.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: kariin

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I'd like to add Patrick Clark who died in the late 90's. He started out at Bice in Beverly HIlls and was Chef at Tavern on the Green in Manhattan when he died. He was young, mid-40s, but was considered a role model (and a fine chef). I still recall hearing about his untimely death.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. Actually I just remembered the one African-American chef from Washington, DC that gained foodie cred - Chef Gillian Clark. Her restaurants in DC failed, but she is now cooking in Placentia, California at a restaurant called Sue Ann's Kitchen.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Anyone from that area should check it out, because Chef Clark rocks,


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Who knew that I'd get a rec out of this thread. That's about 26 miles from me. I'm going to make that happen. It gets very little mention on the LA Board.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: JAB

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            She is a master when it comes to fried catfish, if you are lucky enough to find it on the menu or as a special. You could even call in advance and ask for it..... but if it were me I'd beg and plead for it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Nothing to do with anything, but I am a master at fried speckled trout. Gotta catch my own, though.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. Forgive me if he's already been mentioned but, Chef / Owner Daisley Gordon from Seattle as well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: JAB

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            wayne johnson, too, formerly of andaluca, more recently ray's boathouse, and currently on hiatus. makini howell (hillside quickies), sabrina tinsley (osteria la spiga), patrick gabre-kidan (a variety of Ethan Stowell restaurants).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: chartreauxx

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Hey chartreauxx - thanks for the additional names - great!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. Interesting thread and one I would expect would already be locked if it were started by me or my white counterparts. I have read much of this thread, probably more than any other thread that I’m joining this late into………and here are a few of my opinions on this topic. Similar to you Steve, I have nothing to back up what I’m saying, just my personal opinions for what they are worth.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            First let’s just get this out in the open, does racism still exist? Yes it does. Neither I nor my children or my grandchildren will live to see the day(s) that Gene Roddenberry tried to inspire us where complete racial harmony will exist. Do I think we are moving in that direction? Yes, but we still have a long way to go. To be honest African American’s (US specific) are several generations behind their white counterparts in this country, we are after all still within the generation of legal racial segregation. Time just doesn’t move fast enough in these situations it seems.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Steve you yourself said;

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            “Chowhound membership is definitely not a question of racism. It is completely voluntary, free, and nobody is discouraged or in anyway denied membership by the color of their skin.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            So wouldn’t this indicate if there is not a proper representation of black people participating in Chow, that perhaps the “foodie craze” hasn’t yet hit the community? If there is nothing stopping from people joining and participating in this forum, and yet there is a small number of black participants, wouldn’t that be more indicative of the “foodie” culture not being of substantial interest within that community?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I think the “foodie” culture in general is a rather new phenomenon, up until two decades ago the only celebrity chef known by name in most white or black households was Julia Childs. Now 20 years later look how that has changed. I think like so many things in this country the “foodie phenomenon” is fairly new and like most things it is initially being fueled by the white majority population, but will soon garner the interest and participation of more diverse groups as it continues to grow and expand.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I honestly reject your theory that there is some kind of conspiracy (as you compare to Hollywood) to keep black people from entry or in limited roles within the food industry. The world we live in is constantly evolving, perhaps not fast enough or progressive enough, but I’ve never seen in my 40 years experience in the restaurant/bar industry any blatant examples of discrimination. I wish I could say the same of my 25 years in the financial world.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            One thing I will add to support my claims that it’s more a timing issue than a racism one is my personal experience with my daughter’s freshman year at Johnson and Wales. I would say her freshman class was 25-30% African-American or black. (Still can’t decide which the appropriate term to use is). This just furthers my impression that the current lack of diversity which you are pointing out is just a sign of lagging, rather than racism.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Let's leave the next conversation about the last bastion of racism to be about Hockey or Wheel of Fortune.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            14 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: jrvedivici

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Good post, Jr. But as to Wheel of Fortune, just because Vanna's last name is White you can't hold that against her...:)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: jrvedivici

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                A well-reasoned post, thanks for taking the time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Chowhound is not a place where we come to be hired. It is free and self-selecting; we know that for certain.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                WIth food critcs and other industry participants, this is not a given. These are jobs and a paycheck.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I have no knowledge of a conspiracy, and I don't think I used that term. My reference to Hollywood was to point out that there is serious concern about the lack of color-blind casting. This concern is very much real, so maybe the same applies to the entire food industry?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                My casual observation raises that concern. Aside from some names at the top, I see certain types being shut out of the foodie revolution where the money is concerned.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I see this manifest itself on several levels. Here are some examples:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I see this as a restaurant critc trying to accurately guage the flavors of a Bengali family-style restaurant (this is but one example) that uses more oil than their Eurocentric tastebuds find acceptable.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I also see this as a white restaurant critic ignoring an African-American owned restaurant on the 'wrong side of the tracks.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I see this in star rating systems that are patterned after Michelin and favor Eurocentric customs of fine dining.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I see upscale restuarants that, on a superficial level, appear to eschew color-blind hiring practices. This last part: I am sure this is historically true.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  And none of those "superficial" "casual observations" support the inflammatory thread title.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: acgold7

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The inflammatory thread title is based on the low-to-zero percentage of non-whites as restaurant critics in newspapers and magazines.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      And customers and staff (and actors for some unrelated reason). Are you backing away from the assertions in the post or just being disingenuous?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: acgold7

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The thread title is based on my first assertion. I do not seriously believe that the rest is truly the 'Last Great Bastion of Racism.' That would be extreme. But it is applicable for restaurant critics.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I point out Hollywood movies because of certain similarities - there are a handful of African-American box offcie celebrites who have enough clout to star in the movies. I figured there are probably some black Celebrity Chefs to start a list.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        But drill down a little deeper and is it possible that black people are not seen very much as hosts in upscale restaurants? When I go to one of those new-fangled open kitchen restaurants, are they devoid of African Amercans? Just like in many Holywood movies, drill down and you will see that black actors beyond the stars have a tough time getting good roles that are not race-specific.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Also, I've spent quite a bit of my professonal life in the theatre and some television, so I am aware of the questions concerned with color-blind casting. If you are white, it takes some effort to think of roles in a different way than you are used to. I would not be surprised if hiring in other endeavors is similar.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Regarding starring roles in movies, women are underrepresented, despite having a slight edge population-wise.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Oh yeah, it's a big problem, no doubt. And then once you get to African-American women..... it's a tiny, tiny pool.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: Steve

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    If you don't mind me asking for my own edification, are you black or white Steve?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        So much for the assertion:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        "Interesting thread and one I would expect would already be locked if it were started by me or my white counterparts. "


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Ding, ding, white counterpart alert. Lock the thread now!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: jrvedivici

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        LOL... punctuation, it's a bitch. ;-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      3. re: Steve

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        "I see this in star rating systems that are patterned after Michelin and favor Eurocentric customs of fine dining"
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Is it possible that the customs of fine dining are inherently somewhat Eurocentric?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Some or possibly even most food cultures may not have any traditional systems of expensive restaurants producing their food in a luxurious setting in the first place. Whereas expensive, multi-course, and immaculately presented meals served alongside very expensive beverages* have traditional origins in some Western European cuisines, many other cuisines might lack this tradition entirely**. This might explain partially why fine dining has generally been Eurocentric and also perhaps why Japanese cuisine has recently also had success in fine dining markets in the West, since Japanese cuisine has its own fine dining traditions.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        *Let's not forget that the pushing of wine sales with very high profit margins has a lot to do with why fine dining is a viable business model in the first place.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        ** I make no claims to expertise about the traditions of various world cuisines here. From my limited knowledge, it seems to me that, say, Southern soul food, Mexican cuisine, Indian cuisine, Thai, Vietnamese, or various others are more often represented as kinds of food traditionally sold by smaller vendors in a less formal environment. While nearly all cuisines have some form that was traditionally served to very wealthy members of the society in question, that's doesn't necessarily make for an established business model that translates into fine dining restaurants (see the above comment on wines).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        OTOH, if these and other cuisines do have their own entrenched histories of some form of 'fine dining,' I'd be happy to be enlightened.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      4. re: jrvedivici

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        reminds me of the classic Jackie Mason bit on Jews and basketball.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      5. I would love to believe that there is a "last great bastion of racism," but I'm afraid racism, like poverty, is going to be with us for a long time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Isolda

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Also, possibly too "big" of a topic for Chowhounds to resolve?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Heck we can't even agree on pizza toppings. Or cookware.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. 'negro food writers'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Was this thread started beck in the 1950's?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Withnail42

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I've been following Stew's band, The Negro Problem, recently so that was my inspiration for using the word:


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. "If they clandestinely banned black people at your favorite restaurant, when would you realize? If they refused to hire black hosts or hostesses, would you know? Or would your first inkling be on the 5 o'clock news?"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I wouldn't. :(

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2010 Census says that only 2.7% of my city's population is black. (Only 1.2% for the state as a whole.) Which is a bummer. I see "foodie" black people sometimes at the Indian place I like, so, that's something.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. A Caucasian American should never use the word "negro". Never.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  33 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: carolinadawg

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    There are some amusing exceptions. I'm a white haired Danish-American who has lived off and on in Mexico since 1996, and I was so tanned up when I obtained my FM3 retirement visa there that my skin color is described as "negro".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      But, wouldn't that be "nay gdrow" and not "knee grow"?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: JAB

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Phonetically you are correct. The spelling is the same. I would like to keep this light and lively and amusing, if possible.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          In that vein, I saw a documentary on what was supposed to be people of African decent in Mexico. They found some dark skinned people in Mexico who identified as "nay gdrow" but, not one time did they ask them if they believed if they were descendants from Africa. It was frustratingly amusing to watch. As an aside, they didn't have "African features".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: JAB

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            There are very few of African descent in Mexico. Numerous Garifuna settled in nearby Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras, few in Mexico.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            They cook neat stuff.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              There are a lot of African immigrants in Brazil and Colombia. Same sad origins as happened in the U.S., if remember my history correctly.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Yes, and Trinidad & Tobago also.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  And all of the islands.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Yes, Brazil didn't outlaw slavery until 1888, the last country in the Western Hemisphere to do so.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: JAB

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I don't get the whole "African American" thing. I don't call myself

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                "English Scotch Native American German Etc American."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I understand that sometimes people need to describe the appearance of other people for practical purposes. "She has red hair." "You'll be looking for a guy with black hair, about 6'2" ". Like so.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Maybe if we need to describe a non-Euro-centric person, it will be someday OK to just describe them as they are, without deciding that there is any possible divisive terminology.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                But can you imagine the outcry if I was to say, "he has chocolate skin and a wide, flat nose", or "she has eyes that tilt up and her skin is kind of caramel-y".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The whole issue almost twists around on itself to the point where the people who are willing to honestly say someone has dark skin is the non-racist (because they see nothing wrong with having dark skin), and the person who is offended by this description is the racist (because they think that saying someone has dark skin is akin to saying they are inferior).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  You responded to me and I didn't use the term "African American" in the post that you responded to?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: JAB

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Sorry - just a general statement thrown in randomly - not aimed at you!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        We have a black guy at work, super person, who refuses to be identified as African-American. He says he is American and proud of it, not African at all. I'm second generation Polish, not Polish-American, just American.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: James Cristinian

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          And that is one of the privileges of being white. If you're American of asian ancestry and identify yourself as American, the usual response will be "No, what are you really?" Hence the hyphenation.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Glicoman

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I work with a lot of Asians and I never thought to ask that, what are you really. I work closely with a guy whose parents are Vietnamese and Mexican. What do I call him? He's American to me and he just served in the US Army recently with all that implies.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: James Cristinian

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              But that's you. Ask anyone who is Asian and I'd be surprised if they haven't been asked often. "No. where are you really from?"


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                somehow this came up at a family dinner once so I asked a niece and nephew of mine who are part Asian and part Anglo once how they deal with those ID boxes on forms, they box every one that seems appropriate if allowed, or just check 'other' and don't really think about it much after the initial annoyance.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: James Cristinian

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The hyphenation unfortunately has come to stand for race. When I was in school, races were identified as Caucasoid, Negroid, Mongoloid. We had checklists of each and had to go down and identify each other. Thankfully things have evolved. However, we haven't solved the problem yet.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        In high school, we discussed Othello and that he was supposedly a dark skinned Moor. Our English teacher said he was coffee colored but Hollywood always portrayed him lighter because people felt it was more acceptable (this was in the 70's). Of course, being high schoolers, people asked how many creams in the coffee? We decided then that it would be more accurate to describe people by how many creams they are than by "white, "black', etc., especially because some whites are darker skinned than blacks. It seems appropriate, though the number of creams I am changes seasonally and whether I'm on vacation or not.;-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Ha. We should have a chart. I would be skimmed milk, no coffee at all, with freckles and blue-red undertones. Much less attractive than a nice cappuccino.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Just to keep this as food-centric as possible, white rice and black beans mixed together in Cuba are called 'christianos y moros.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            "The whole issue almost twists around on itself to the point where the people who are willing to honestly say someone has dark skin is the non-racist (because they see nothing wrong with having dark skin),"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            There is nothing racist about describing a person accurately if it's relevant, called for in context and not derogatory or gratuitous.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Racism isn't about seeing and acknowledging color or other differences between folks, it's about how people and institutions interpret, interact and respond to it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      You still shouldn't identify African Americans as "negroes" in everyday conversation.