Charleston sits as a culinary hot spot in the southeast. People travel from all over the world to experience what our local food scene has to offer. In our city, food is more than just nourishment - food is community, food is culture, food is history. So many aspects of our foodie culture can be celebrated but our community is also guilty of exclusion.
Black cuisine is the cornerstone to food in the south and Charleston in particular. Yet we do not see the same adoration for black chefs, purveyors, foodies, and restaurateurs in the Charleston culinary conversation. We must do better; Red Clay is going to do better.
We are partnering up with local food blogger and photographer Jai Jones to highlight Black folks in our Food and Beverage community. In a partnered effort with KJ Kearney at Black Food Fridays, we are hoping to start a dialogue focusing on supporting black businesses in the food community that are vital in shaping the texture of our culinary scene.
To do our part in not only shining a representative light on black businesses Red Clay also wants to support with our dollars. For the next month, 15% of Red Clay sales will go to KJ Kearney of @blackfoodfridays to help build their efforts locally, regionally, and nationally.
Each week Jai will take us where he is eating and showcase food you must try as soon as you can! He will be getting the behind the scenes scoop on great folks in our food community doing great things. We sat down with Jai (photo below) for a little Q & A to get his thoughts on the project. Scroll down to read it!
What drives your passion for the food and bev world?
It all really started for me after I graduated from college. I moved back to Charleston and going out to explore new restaurants became a common outing for my family- and really another way to continue to reconnect and share new experiences since we were not all in the same house. I have always been a fan of the F&B food and beverage. Back in 2010, Charleston was really beginning to gain notoriety as a culinary destination, and with having an arts background, I really appreciated all aspects of visiting restaurants.
It’s an entire experience, from the architecture and interiors, to the service and of course the food and plating. I really loved the art of it all, and that new passion, along with my love for photography, eventually became what is now known as Jai Eats.
What made you want to take part in this project?
I honestly love telling stories and highlighting restaurants and other businesses that sometimes don’t get the attention they deserve. Charleston has a rich culinary history and scene, and you unfortunately do not see some of the black restaurants in our community receive the same coverage or exposure as they should. I think this is a great opportunity to expose people to more black chefs and restaurateurs in our city, and further amplify the work being done with Black Food Fridays.
What are your hopes for this project?
In the end, I hope this shines a light on some of the incredible chefs and restaurants that people may not be aware of yet. I want more people to go out and support black businesses and expand what they know and try something new. The culinary scene is Charleston is vast, but a lot of focus on our restaurants highlight downtown establishments (of which there are many great ones to note). But it is important to also realize that there are so many incredible restaurants throughout this city (and beyond the peninsula) that are as important and also deserve recognition and support.
Written by Quincie Z, Bardsley, Brand Strategist