Rising Star Chef Omar Tate Wants To Inform & Inspire Through Cooking
Chef Omar Tate is using food to showcase black culture, one meal at a time.
Philadelphia native Tate spent more than 10 years in fine dining establishments, including a Michelin starred restaurant and with the likes of “Top Chef’s” Tom Colicchio.
But after working in white male-dominated kitchens, Tate said he became inspired to create his own unique culinary narrative that pays homage to the Black Experience. He founded the “Honeysuckle” pop up dinner series where he aims to explore African-American heritage through food.
“I use Honeysuckle as a platform to discuss ideas of blackness through food, using art, history and literature to inform those ideas,” Tate said, adding, “We have so much to offer without looking at a piece of fried chicken.”
Visit Philadelphia and the African-American Museum in Philadelphia partnered with the talented young chef for a tasting event and a fundraiser last week at the Farm Neck Country Club in Martha’s Vineyard.
At the benefit, Tate served a crab salad garnished with a sunflower seed puree that washed down with cocktails from black-owned whiskey company Uncle Nearest. He said that the dish was inspired by his memories of hanging out on his stoop as a kid with his family, eating crab and sunflower seeds.
“We all look at food to inform ourselves about the person next to us, Tate said. “And as black people, with all the stigmas around our food, I (want to) use us to define our food and not have our food define us.”
This year’s event theme, “Telling Our Story Through Food,” was one of the ways that the African American Museum works to keep the city’s cultural landscape vibrant, according to museum head Patricia Wilson.
“We’re not only about history, Wilson said. “We are about the now and the future….connecting the food traditions of the South and what’s going on today.”
Museum board member Mike Horsey implored the crowd to support the Smithsonian-affiliated institution for its work in the community and particularly with children.
“Those of you who have gone to HBCU’s understand the need to support our institutions, because of the impact they have on our children. The African-American Museum does a lot in our community…and we need to make sure that this organization is sustained and maintained.”