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Heinz, the beloved food company behind America’s favorite ketchup, ushers in its new Open Kitchen Series, shining a light on up-and-coming Black chefs in the restaurant industry. The global food giant is partnering with world-renowned chef and restauranteur Marcus Samuelsson to kick off its new program.
As a part of the brand’s Black Kitchen Initiative, supporting and recognizing the contributions of Black-owned food businesses, the Open Kitchen Series highlights rising culinary talent through restaurant takeover events hosted by prominent chefs. “It’s been such a joy to work with a major, well-known, established company that takes this seriously; to see us, as people of color in the industry, at all levels,” says Samuelsson.
The owner of over a dozen restaurants around the world, Chef Samuelsson will be leading the charge, opening the doors of two of his acclaimed restaurants, Red Rooster in New York City and Marcus Bar and Grille in Atlanta. Offering up his kitchen and creative insight, the prolific chef will collaborate with rising chefs to bring their pop-up events to life.
Heinz’s Open Kitchen Series
The first pop-up of the Open Kitchen Series will take place in Harlem at Red Rooster on Wednesday, December 6. Chef Samuelsson will work with restauranteurs Joy Crump and Beth Black, co-owners of Foode + Mercantile in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Foode + Mercantile is a community-driven restaurant group celebrating Black cuisine using locally grown and seasonal ingredients.
The second pop-up will be in the historic neighborhood of Old Fourth Ward at Marcus Bar and Grille on February 21, 2024. The pop-up will be put on by Lorraine and Antwan Smalls, the owners of My Three Sons in Charleston, South Carolina. The restaurant serves down-home fare with warm, inviting service, paying homage to the culinary contributions of Charleston.
Both participants in the series are grant recipients of the Black Kitchen Initiative, the parent program of the Open Kitchen Series. The pop-ups give these culinarians the opportunity to reach a wider network and gain exposure for their growing businesses.
Championing Black Food Businesses
Heinz started the Black Kitchen Initiative in 2020 to honor the impact of Black entrepreneurs in the culinary world by using its resources as a major company to support Black voices and businesses.
In the last three years, Heinz has contributed around three million dollars in grants, in addition to pioneering the Black Kitchen Podcast and Open Kitchen Series spotlighting Black culinary excellence.
Partnering with Southern Restaurants for Racial Justice and The Lee Initiative, two organizations that focus on empowerment and equity in the industry, Heinz has been able to produce substantial change. Now with its Open Kitchen Series debut, the brand is teaming up with Chef Marcus Samuelsson, who is equally committed to uplifting Black voices in the culinary world.
“People of color, Black people, have contributed so much to American cuisine, so you are stepping into a field that we have done a lot in, not always getting acknowledged and recognized,” he shares.
Through his many restaurants, cookbooks, and projects, Samuelsson has been working for years to support Black chefs and bring their contributions to the forefront of the food world. “I will continue to do it and it looks different every time,” he states.
“Whether it’s our restaurant Hav & Mar in Chelsea that is led by women of color, or whether it’s being a part of initiatives like this, and that is, for me, what black cooking is today, and why it’s so exciting, it doesn’t operate on one level.”
Tickets for the first popup event by Foode + Mercantile on December 6 are available now on Eventbrite. To learn more about the Open Kitchen Series and Black Kitchen Initiative, you can visit Kraft Heinz or follow their Instagram @heinzbki.
For more information on Chef Marcus Samuelsson and his impact on the culinary world, visit his site.