Charleston sits as a culinary hot spot in the southeast that people travel from all over the world to experience. And in Charleston, food is more than just nourishment - it represents our community, culture, and 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. So in an effort to highlight the black chefs, purveyors and others in the industry, I started a year long partnership in 2020 with Red Clay Provisions based in Charleston, South Carolina in support of #blackfoodfridays. Black Food Fridays is an initiative started by James Beard Award Finalist KJ Kearney in an effort to spotlight Black-owned restaurants and encourage people to support a restaurant or business in their area every Friday. Below are a few of the interviews I had with people within our local culinary community.
Red Clay x FairyFresh Foods
The first feature for #BlackFoodFridays featured FairyFresh Foods, a completely plant-based personal chef service created by entrepreneur Shaquille Fontenot. Established in 2019, FairyFresh is driven by a passion to educate on the healing powers of plant-based foods, and doing so in a fun and accessible way. I spent an afternoon earlier this month with Shaquille hearing what inspired FairyFresh while she prepared a fan favorite dish for us to enjoy. Read on as we discuss why plant-based foods are a cornerstone to the FairyFresh mission, the importance of accessible and healthy food options, and what’s to come for this Black-owned company.
Red Clay x Gillie's Seafood & Soul
Chef Sean Mendes has been a part of the Charleston culinary community for over a decade, most notably with one of his first ventures in 2012, the successful food truck turned restaurant Roadside Seafood. In 2018, Chef Mendes opened Gillie’s Seafood & Soul on James Island - named in tribute to his grandmother and influential person in his culinary journey, LaReese Gilliard. That family connection is seen the moment you walk in, with a wall of photos with Chef Mendes’ grandmother at the center - surrounded by portraits of matriarchs brought in by customers who have visited over the years. For this Black Food Friday, I talked with Chef Mendes more on how he was inspired to pursue a culinary career, the dishes to not miss on your visit and why supporting and sourcing locally is so important.
Red Clay x Park Circle Creamery
“People make it fun”. You can truly feel that Maurice Ray loves what he does and his positive demeanor makes you smile the moment you walk in the door. Maurice started Park Circle Creamery in 2016 with his brother on East Montague Ave- right down the road from the North Park Village area of North Charleston he grew up in. Staying involved in his community is still important to Maurice and Park Circle Creamery, most notably with the “Art on Ice” area at the front of the shop that allows local artists of all mediums to showcase their work to the public. Park Circle Creamery began with 16 flavors of classic, hand-scooped ice cream and shakes, but have expanded their menu by adding ice cream bars (always dip it and top it), floats and even pints that you can take home with you. I spent an afternoon with Maurice to learn about how all this started, what's to come for Park Circle Creamery, and what to get when you visit for #blackfoodfridays.
Story and Photography by Jai Jones