Programs Culinary Lyricism - Exploring the Intersection of Food and Music in Black Community and Culture


  • Date:
    May 17, 2023
  • End Date:
    May 17, 2023
  • Time:
    7:00 PM - 8:30 PM
  • Location:

Organized with The Museum of Food and Drink



Tuesday, May 17th, 2022
7:00PM – 8:30PM

The Africa Center at Aliko Dangote Hall
1280 Fifth Avenue New York, NY 10029 United States (map)


Food, like music, is shaped by our climate, socioeconomic circumstances, and our heritage. Both are a product of these broader contexts and articulation of our struggles and triumphs within them. Incorporating the perspectives of chef and A Tribe Called Quest former member Jarobi White, chef, author, and opera singer Alexander Smalls, food history and culture scholar Nia-Raquelle Smith, and chef Amethyst Ganaway, this event will explore the many parallels in the trends and textures that shape our two most basic forms of expression: food and music.

Attendees will be the first to hear the world premiere of Let us Break Bread Together, the title track off Alexander Smalls’ new album of the same name releasing in June.

Your in-person ticket includes a “brown bag lunch” crafted by Chef Amethyst Ganaway (grilled cheese sandwich, Yolélé Fonio chips, option of lemonade or sweet tea and/or alcoholic beverage). You’ll also be treated to an exclusive tasting of Blackberry Molasses flavor ice cream from Sugar Hill Creamery, made custom for this event.




For over a decade, Amethyst has been working her way through the food and beverage industry. While earning her BA at the University of South Carolina, the North Charleston native began her career in restaurants as a server and cashier. After making her way through various corporate and fine dining management positions, Amethyst’s resume now includes recipe development, catering, and food writing. She has been published inTaste, Eater, Food and Wine, Plate Magazine, and The Post and Courier. In 2020, she was awarded the Les Dames International Legacy Culinary Award and was featured in the New York Times.




Alexander Smalls is a James-Beard-Award-winning chef, author, and raconteur. His most recent undertaking has been the creation—the founding and orchestrating—of Alkebulan: the first modern contemporary African dining hall, which opened in October of 2021 for Dubai Expo 2020. Alexander Smalls was the visionary co-owner of renowned restaurants Minton’s and The Cecil — NYC’s first Afro-Asian American restaurant, which was named “Best New Restaurant in America” by Esquire in 2014. He received a 2019 James Beard Award, with chef JJ Johnson and Veronica Chambers, for their cookbook, Between Harlem and Heaven. His most recent book, Meals, Music & Muses: Recipes from my African American Kitchen, has been acclaimed by New York Times and Los Angeles Times. Additionally, Smalls is also a world-renowned opera singer and the winner of both a Grammy Award and a Tony Award for the cast recording of George Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess” with the Houston Grand Opera. Smalls will debut his new recording title, “Let us Break Bread together” in June 2022. Alexander Smalls sees his career in the world of hospitality as an activist and advocate for the foodways of the African Diaspora. When he’s not traveling, Alexander Smalls resides in Harlem, where he is active in the community on nonprofit boards and with community initiatives.




Consumed by all things bread, Nia Raquelle Smith is a non profit professional moonlighting as a food scholar and future PhD student with a focus on the intersection of food in Black and Latinx communities. A native of Brooklyn, NY she completed her BA in media and language arts at CUNY – Hunter College, and her MS in Arts Administration at Drexel University. Through interactive programming she works to make food scholarship accessible, digestible and palatable. You can find her on all platforms as @eatwithnia or her site




JAROBI WHITE Jarobi White, born in St. Albans, Queens met future group member Phife Dawg in the early 1980s. The two went on to collaborate with Q-Tip and eventually Ali Shaheed Muhamad to form, A Tribe Called Quest. Jarobi became a member of the group acting as host on the first album, People’s Instinctive Travels. He continued to provide inspiration and input for many of Tribe’s albums throughout the groups history. In 2007, Jarobi was also honored with A Tribe Called Quest at VH1’s fourth annual Hip Hop Honors ceremony. At the pinnacle of the group’s success, White made the decision to leave Tribe to pursue his true passion in culinary arts. His talent has taken him to Washington D.C., South Carolina and Atlanta where he has made a name for himself as an executive chef and restaurant manager. In 2012, Hip Hop’s prodigal son returned to New York to team with fellow Native Tongue’s member Dres to form Evitan. The duo released their first album, “Speed of Life” while Jarobi simultaneously took on a chef position in a restaurant in the West Village, helping catapult it to a Michelin rating. His appearance in The Tribe Called Quest documentary, “Beats, Rhymes and Life” rekindled the love affair fans have for the mysterious fourth member of their favorite group.