LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — A ten-day celebration of black culinary that highlights black farmers, chefs, food establishments, caterers and culinary vendors in Central Kentucky officially kicked off in Lexington on Thursday.
There are 12 events spread across 10 days and it begins with a kickoff Soiree mix and mingle.
Twins Martina and Marcellus Barksdale organized the week out of a passion project from a unique love for food and their culture.
"Last year I started the #19DaysOfBlackBiz challenge where for 19 days I supported a black owned business in Lexington, leading up to Juneteenth and then I put together a list of black owned businesses," said Martina. "And so I wanted to combine the things, so I brought it to my twin brother Marcellus' attention like, let's do a Black Restaurant Week and he was like let's do it."
Participating black owned restaurants and food establishments will feature a unique, off-menu food item for less than $10.
Genesis Coffee House and Eatery is one of those featured spots. They opened in April, 20 years after the owner, Tabet Wilson, had the dream.
The words "welcome" greet you as soon as you walk in and Wilson says that's exactly how she wants her customers to feel.
"Genesis is a place that we try to do all things freshly made, freshly brewed. Also, we do believe in fresh product, produce and things like that. We also support your local entrepreneurs in the community. We're really about community. We love people, we love helping others. We love creating a safe and happy and loving environment," said Wilson.
There are thirteen restaurants in total that are offering unique options for the ten day celebration.
As a part of their mission, SoulFeast partnered with community organizations like Black Soil whose mission is to reconnect black Kentuckians to their legacy and heritage in agriculture.
Co-Founder Ashley C. Smith says the partnership was a no-brainer. Each dish will feature one item from black famers provided by Black Soil.
"We are encouraging our participating restaurants to purchase simply one product for an ingredient featured in their dish, because we want to show that this even the smallest impact can make a large ripple effect happen across the ag industry by more people buying into supporting local farmers," said Smith.
It's all about building community, promoting economic equity in culinary, and celebrating the black experience on the heels of Juneteenth, now finally recognized as a national holiday.
"It's really been all about, you know number one just educating, different other people, other races even, you know, some, some black people as well that might not be as familiar with Juneteenth, but, you know, using this as an opportunity to kind of just tie everything in from a historical perspective," explained Marcellus. "Going back literally to our roots and how food has really been an instrumental part in that process, but also to being able to use Juneteenth as an opportunity for us to really rally around each other as a community. Especially as a black community, and allowing others to be able to participate, and give them a tangible opportunity to become aware of Juneteenth and the significance of that. And how they can, furthermore, do more to help and have a direct impact into the black community with our black food scene in culinary."
This is the first year, but the twins plan to make it annual. They say it's all thanks to the community.
You can go online to their website at www.soulfeastweek.com for more information.
There, you can find the restaurants participating and purchase tickets to the events that are not already sold out.
Organizers say the planned total investment of SoulFeast week is expected to be $100,000 poured into Central Kentucky.