Since the debut of the first black reality culinary competition, “Bringing It To The Table” last November, creator chef Mimi Robinson has been very busy. The Oakland chef is on a mission to raise awareness about black chefs and this year kicked off a delicious brunch series, Chef Mimi’s Cali-Soul Food Brunch, to celebrate black food and culture.
Teaming up with chef Nelson German at his restaurant alaMar Kitchen & Bar, the two are set to do it again on Sunday, March 25 from 2 – 4 pm. The “Eclectic Soul Food Brunch” buffet will feature red velvet pancakes, Southern fried chicken and our favorite…bottomless mimosas.
We caught up with Robinson to hear what she has been up to since we last spoke, learn more about the new brunch series and of course what is next for the second season of the show.
Tell us about the response you have received so far from those who watched the season.
Filming “Bringing It To The Table” was such a teachable lesson for me. I received so many praises. People said they really enjoyed the diverse representation of black chefs. Each chef was different and represented their own style and flavor which is different from the stereotypical lens that black chefs only cook soul food and barbecue.
Highlights included the different challenges such as the liquor store and giving the chefs $8 and 8 minutes to prepare a gourmet dish using limited ingredients. Also, being able to shop at one of our sponsors, Whole Foods Oakland, where there is an abundance [of ingredients], to wine tasting at Rosenblum Cellars and preparing dishes that complemented the complexity of the wine. Many also loved the positive representation of Oakland.
I can say it was a little tough creating content that shared the black food experience while keeping a reality format feel that our viewers would love. Reality TV has been so negative, and I didn’t want “Bringing It To The Table” to be another black show with folks arguing all the time and where we lose the essence and purpose of the show.
Currently, I am working to extend our marketing reach so more people can view the show.
What is next for the show in 2018?
I am actively looking for a place to call home, a new platform for season two. Season one was distributed through Vimeo’s pay per view platform. Simultaneously, we are creating some amazing challenges, scouting for black chefs and investigating the best locations in the next city. I hope to use San Francisco as our backdrop. Being in San Francisco will allow us to go deeper into the various food cultures there, along with being able to tap into the tech community.
As for the chefs, I am looking to cast men and women who want to build lifelong relationships, so they feel like they have a strong sense of support from each other. I will emphasize that it is more than a show; it is a movement.
Your February brunch with Chef Nelson was wonderful. Share more about the concept and brunches planned this year as well as some highlights for the upcoming one on March 25.
I wanted to create events different from just a “restaurant pop-up.” I want guests to have a top-of-the-line interactive dining experience where they can enjoy some amazing food, cocktails and engage in themes that represent black culture. The first event was a Black Film Brunch theme. It was amazing to see 50 people sing the theme song from the 70’s hit show “Good Times” and enjoy ten different flavors of bottomless mimosas.
For the next event, I decided to do Black Music theme. Everyone loves black music, so this one is going be so much fun. I hope to continue the series all year. The event will travel to various locations, and my mission is to partner and showcase other black chefs as I have collaborated with chef Nelson to bring the best all-you-can-eat Cali-Soul cuisine.
Please share additional projects and events you are working on that readers should put on their radars to help you promote the work of Blacks in the industry.
I am working on a kid’s cooking event for the summer of 2019. I am also a food advocate, and my mission is to align with mission-driven companies and social entrepreneurs who want to see more opportunities for people of color in the food and media space. Plus, make a shift in food swamps and deserts in black and brown neighborhoods which affect health disparities in our communities.