Hip-hop may have turned 50 this past summer, but the celebration continues in unexpected ways this fall.
In New York City, the annual Wine and Food Festival is always a big draw. This year they’re fusing the love of food with a celebration of the storied genre that is hip-hop, culminating in JJ Johnson’s The Cookout: Hip Hop’s 50th Anniversary Celebration brought to you by BACARDĺ. The star–studded happening will close out the Festival on Sunday at Pier 86. Well-known names set to attend include Run DMC legend Rev Run and icon Ice-T, as well as DJ Cassidy, who will all be performing. In addition, MCs for the day will be Tamron Hall and Angela Yee, with tunes spun by DJ MICK.
The whole cookout was put together by JJ Johnson, James Beard Award-winning chef, owner of the Harlem restaurant FIELDTRIP, and authority on all things rice with the book — The Simple Art of Rice: Recipes from Around the World for the Heart of Your Table — to prove it. He has invited a number of talented chefs, most Black, to come along and create their best dishes with the boldest flavors for those attending to savor. The three-hour party will be the perfect celebration of storytelling through food and rhymes as there is, of course, no cookout without “hip-hop vibes” as Johnson says.
“I love hip-hop. It is rooted in my culture,” he tells ESSENCE. “Tupac and Biggie were my moments of hip-hop and iconic. Growing up on the East Coast, playing basketball with my friends, we would always debate about who’s the best rapper from Jay-Z to Nas. I remember my dad telling me not to forget about jazz music, the way the sound moves, the rhythm, the beats. Jazz had a big influence on hip-hop that I think is important to remember.”
In addition to things like beef patties with coco bread, fried shrimp, braised beef bowls from FIELDTRIP and plenty of vegetarian fare, per the usual with Johnson, rice will be a big part of the celebration. The chef will be making jollof rice, a West African staple, from his popular cookbook. For Johnson, when he thinks of the genre, he thinks of rice because there is a dish from every culture. Therefore, expect plenty of long-grain packed with flavor.
“My jollof is a celebration of Liberian jollof: chicken, shrimp and mixed vegetables. A little bit of smokiness and tomatoes. Liberian Jollof reminds me of Jambalaya,” he says.
Of all the things you can expect at the event, per cookout rules, there won’t be anything sure to raise an eyebrow according to Johnson: “There will be no potato salad with raisins.”
You can celebrate the brand new event, closing out the 16th annual Festival, from 4 to 7 p.m. EST on Sunday, Oct. 15 on Pier 86, home of the Intrepid Museum in Hudson River Park. See the full lineup of chefs partaking in the party and learn more about what’s to come over at nycwff.org.