This spring, the renowned, non-profit culinary arts organization, James Beard Foundation, partnered with Google and Jamestown, a design-focused real estate investment and management firm, to create a mission-driven culinary project at Pier 57 in New York City’s Hudson River Park called Platform. Found in the Market 57 food hall, Platform by the James Beard Foundation, a state-of-the-art show kitchen, event space, and educational hub for outstanding culinary arts programming, and Good To Go by JBF, a retail incubator, is now the physical gathering place for likeminded culinary professionals to gather. The space brings the James Beard Foundation’s Good Food for Good mission to life.
Platform by the James Beard Foundation is now open to the public, welcoming visitors to experience the best of American food culture and the people behind it.
On Friday, April 28, accomplished panelists Sharene Wood and Syreeta Gates, along with moderator Kysha Harris, spoke to a sold-out audience at Platform as part of their April programming. The “Hip-Hop to Hospitality: Ladies First” panel’s conversation covered the intersection of hip-hop and food culture, what it takes to be a multi-hyphenate entrepreneur across two male-dominated industries, how they define hip-hop culture, and how it has impacted their careers. It was right on time, as 2023 celebrates the 50th anniversary of hip-hop.
“The creativity of our community is limitless. I know that creativity equals profitability. We took a business that we didn’t know was a business and monetized it, and that’s how we’re so successful,” said Sharene Wood, President & CEO of 5001 FLAVORS, HH Bespoke Spirits and Harlem Haberdashery during the event.
“Hip-hop is my first language and allows me to be in a culinary space. It’s because hip-hop opened the door for me,” said Syreeta Gates, a serial social entrepreneur, when asked about the interconnectivity of both professions.
Wood shared, “I am a lifestyle entrepreneur. There was a strong connection between hospitality and hip-hop; it’s a seamless lifestyle, everything you touch and feel,” she says. Regarding how hip-hop and food can be intertwined, Gates believes the examples are right under our noses. “You can’t talk about hip-hop without talking about food. The food lyrics in hip-hop music were my entry to food.”
To further drive home that perspective, all of the ladies were asked what their favorite food-focused songs are. Wood said “Champagne on the Campaign” by Mook Boy. Gates dropped “Gin & Juice” by Snoop Dogg. And Kysha Harris made sure to mention “Ice Cream” by Raekwon.
Following the hour-plus conversation, there was a reception curated by Chef Lexis Gonzalez, author and owner of Lady Lexis Kitchen, and Chef Lay Alston, owner of Soul & Wheel. Staying on the night’s theme and paying homage to the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, the evening’s menu was inspired by the 80s and 90s hip-hop era. Panelists and audience members were treated with bites like Boogie Down Veg, a black-eyed pea burger, Ladies Snack Cake, a housemade Twinkie, and drinks like a Ladies First signature cocktail by HH Bespoke Spirits.
This is just a taste (pun intended) of offerings through Platform.
Recently, the Foundation launched its inaugural lineup of Platform events, with the first three months of programming curated along the following themes:
April—Empire State of Mind: Honoring New York State’s culinary history and culture, featuring incredible food and beverage talent within the state and city’s borders.
May—Road to the Red Carpet: Presented by Capital One, May programming will kick off the Chef-in-Residence program with a series of 2022 James Beard Award Winners in the run-up to this year’s James Beard Awards ceremonies in June.
June—Celebrating Pride: Spotlighting the delicious food and achievements of LGBTQ+ members and allies in the culinary industry.
From weekly chef-in-residence programs to intimate dining events, exceptional beverage-focused programming, exciting cooking demos, hands-on culinary classes, interactive exhibits, book signings, industry convenings and more—there’s something for everyone to celebrate their love of food and beverage while highlighting the diverse people, cultures, traditions, and innovations shaping our food culture today.
Check out more original programming from Platform by James Beard Foundation here.