Traveling chef Tunde Wey asks ‘who is benefiting from Detroit’s restaurant revival?’
While some of Detroit’s restaurants are enjoying packed houses and largely complimentary reviews from local critics, it’s assumed that the bounty is trickling down to restaurant workers and local food suppliers.
The restaurant workers are noticeably in demand nowadays as I see Detroit restaurants often hiring for front- and back-of-house staff.
One would also hope that restaurant owners and workers who have been working in the city for years before Detroit’s restaurant boom are benefiting from this influx of customers and attention. But are they?
Detroit is a majority African-American city, yet many of the chefs who hold top positions at the hottest restaurants are white men. Some of these chefs are also the proprietors. Of course, there are people of color who own and operate food businesses around the city (some of which have been the subject of this column), but it’s mostly white people who are opening the restaurants where the real estate is prime.
Chef and writer Tunde Wey — a Detroiter who was born and raised in Nigeria — has been having conversations about race and food all across the country with his Blackness in America pop-up series featuring African food and frank discussions.
On Monday, Wey will moderate a panel about race, appropriation and gentrification. The event will pose the question: “Who’s Benefiting from Detroit’s New Food Revival?”
Wey will be joined by Devita Davison of FoodLab Detroit and Metro Times dining editor Serena Maria Daniels who will talk about the role of minorities in the city’s restaurant and food businesses. Claire Nelson and Chase Cantrell of the Urban Consulate will host.
The panel discussion is 6-8 p.m. Monday, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, at the Urban Consulate, 4470 Second in Detroit. The event is free and open to all. While there will be no food served, Wey jests that there may be some complimentary wine in case the conversation becomes “a bit uncomfortable.”
■After debuting in December, Campus Martius restaurant Parc launched lunch service this week. The elegant restaurant with a gorgeous view of the park will have more approachable prices at lunch, and will include some of the items from the dinner and happy hour menus including tuna tartare, short rib crispy tacos and their (fantastic) chopped salad with pickled cauliflower and mustard vinaigrette.
■Chef George Azar of Flowers of Vietnam — a restaurant that operates out of Vernor Coney Island on the weekends — is popping up at all ages music venue El Club (4114 W. Vernor in Detroit) on Jan. 23-24. Tickets for the four-course meal, $35, should be purchased in advance at elclubdetroit.com.
■Michigan’s North Peak Brewery has released Stormy Oat, a new IPA that is now available in 6-pack bottles. It clocks in at 6.7 percent alcohol by volume and has a IBU of 35, putting it in the middle of the bitterness scale.