Black History Month event to focus on Asheville restaurant industry

CELEBRATING COMMUNITY: A Wednesday, Feb. 22, event at Calypso restaurant will honor Africans and African Americans in Asheville's restaurant industry. Calypso owner Esther Joseph says, "When I opened my business last year, I wanted it to be a place where people of all backgrounds could gather for good food and community. I am happy to welcome all who wish to celebrate black history to Calypso on Wednesday.” Photo by Thomas Calder

Downtown Caribbean restaurant Calypso will salute Black History Month with an afternoon reception Wednesday, Feb. 22, honoring the role of Africans and African Americans in the Asheville restaurant industry. Calypso will partner with local nonprofit organization Green Opportunities and restaurant industry community activism initiative Asheville Kitchen Cabinet to host the celebration.

The hour-long networking and fellowship event will acknowledge the accomplishments and contributions of Gene Ettison, executive chef instructor at Green Opportunities; Hanan Shabazz, culinary instructor at Green Opportunities; Neeraj Kebede, co-owner of Addissae Ethiopian restaurant; Esther Joseph, owner of Calypso- St. Lucian Caribbean Cuisine; Octavius Boozier, GO Kitchen Ready graduate and fry cook at Juicy Lucy’s; and Marie Johnson, GO Kitchen Ready graduate and line cook at Green Sage Café. Local elected officials will offer words, and honorees will speak about the Asheville restaurant community. 

In a press release about the event, Green Opportunities Executive Director Joseph “J” Hackett points to Black History Month as a prime opportunity to spotlight hidden figures in Asheville’s thriving food scene. “While there are not many prominent African-American faces in Asheville’s restaurant industry, many of the people working behind the scenes to make it all happen are black,” Hackett says.”Many of these fine people came through our Kitchen Ready program, and we’re thrilled to recognize their achievements and contributions.”

Joseph, who is originally from the Caribbean island of St. Lucia, says in the release, “When I opened my business last year, I wanted it to be a place where people of all backgrounds could gather for good food and community. I am happy to welcome all who wish to celebrate black history to Calypso on Wednesday.”

The Black History Month celebration happens at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 22, at Calypso, 18 Lexington Ave. For updates, visit Asheville Kitchen Cabinet’s event Facebook page. The reception is free and open to the public, but an RSVP is required. To read about some of Asheville’s black restaurant owners, chefs and employees, check out these profiles compiled by the Asheville Kitchen Cabinet.


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