On Feb. 20, Taste of Black Austin celebrates black food history, culture

Austin has lots of tasting events, many of which raise money for good causes, but few tell a story as rich and historical as the Greater Austin Black Chamber of Commerce‘s Taste of Black Austin, which returns for the second year on Feb. 20 at Peached Social House, 6500 N. Lamar Blvd.

A Taste of Black Austin will return for the second year on Feb. 20. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

At the event from 6 to 9 p.m., more than 20 black-owned food businesses will be serving small bites connected to the theme of “From Field to Table.” By focusing on the influence of food and farming in the preservation of black history and culture, Taste of Black Austin organizers are opening a door to a deeper conversation about black economic prosperity through food.

Celebrating Austin’s current black food culture also provides a lens through which to see the history of black-owned food businesses in Austin, says GABC CEO and president Tam Hawkins. At a preview lunch earlier this week, Hawkins explained that Austin had more black-owned food businesses in 1905 than it does today, including many farms.

Today, there are few farm owners of color in the Austin area, and even fewer, if any, who identify as black. The lack of diversity in Central Texas agriculture didn’t happen overnight, and it won’t be resolved overnight, but Hawkins says she hopes that this event will spark a dialogue about the barriers to entry for all kinds of food businesses, not only agriculture, and honor the long legacy of African Americans in the farming and food communities of this area.

Members of the Greater Austin Black Chamber of Commerce at a Taste of Black Austin preview event earlier this week at the Cook’s Nook. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

At the event in a few weeks, guests will enjoy savory small plates inspired by historic menus and recipe books and prepared by some of Austin’s talented chefs and a curated photo exhibition showcasing unique food history. During the preview, we tried chicken confit on pork rinds, garlicky collard greens with seared pork belly and an old fashioned ice milk served on creole-style bread pudding from local chefs Shon Moeller of Conjure Noir Social Aid & Pleasure Club and Demmerick Johnson, who has worked in fine dining kitchens in Austin for more than 20 years.

Event tickets are available for $85 and VIP tickets are available for $150, which includes a VIP cooking demonstration preceding the reception. You can find out more about the event and buy tickets at tasteofblackaustin.com.