On June 19, 2015, Austin, Texas will host its first Soul Summit: A Conversation About Race, Identity, Power and Food, an unprecedented gathering of the nation’s top African American chefs, food historians, writers and authors and scholars.
We think it is particularly appropriate for Soul Summit to take place at venues located within the city's gentrified African American Cultural Heritage District — a modern reality that is erasing many of the historic places where Austin’s vibrant black food scene once thrived. We also intentionally designed Soul Summit to coincide with the commemoration of Juneteenth weekend. Our hope is that examining African American culinary history with some of today’s greatest thinkers and chefs and reclaiming our images will inspire a new generation of food professionals.
We are thrilled that you are planning to join us, and we have planned a thought-provoking program and delicious food and drink for you to savor. Here’s an early look at what’s in store, and a few logistics to help you with your planning.
A final list of presenters will be posted in time for the June 1 ticket sales deadline.
Friday, June 19 - 5:30 p.m. Registration and Welcome Reception, George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center
A Taste of Heritage - Sip and stroll cocktails and stations by Word of Mouth Catering.
An historical drama performed by Austin performers Carla Nickerson and Jennifer Cumberbatch.
Saturday - 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. The State of African American Culinary Arts, Huston-Tillotson Seabrook Chapel
Shoebox breakfast, prepared by local chef and restaurateur Hoover Alexander with African Coffee Tasting by Texas Coffee Traders.
A Good Morning Invocation from Carla Hall.
Food scholars Psyche Williams-Forson, Jessica B. Harris and Adrian Miller examine the history of African American cuisine the way it was — not as often portrayed.
Performance art by historians Scott Barton and Myron Beasely.
Lunch in the Sea Islands - with Chefs Kevin Mitchell, Benjamin Dennis & Austin Community College Culinary Students. After lunch the chefs talk with journalist and author Ellen Sweets about the meaning of Gullah Geechee soul.
Reclaiming Our Images - A Career Slam with Therese Nelson, Tambra Raye, Elle Simone, Helen Roberts, Andrea Roberts, moderated by Donna Pierce.
Executive Chef For What? The Argument for a Culinary Career - Author and writer Lolis Eric Elie explores successful food service operations, culinary education and outreach in post-Katrina New Orleans.
#foodgentrification 101 - A Word from the Ghana Think Tank with Michele Washington and Austin African American Cultural Heritage District Food Business Tour with the District's director, Lisa Byrd. Includes a stop at one of the few remaining restaurants on the Chitlin’ Circuit, the Victory Grill, and at Franklin Barbecue, known nationally for its hours-long waiting line.
Saturday 6:30 - 10 p.m. Soul Celebration, African American Cultural Heritage Facility and Dedrick/Hamilton House
Happy Hour and Book Signing with mixologist Tiffanie Barriere.
Tasting the Modern South surprises by chefs Todd Richards, Bryant Terry, and Chris Williams.
Michael Twitty revives traditional front-porch storytelling delivered from — where else — the front porch of the restored home of Austin’s first land-owning freedman.
Sunday 9 a.m. - noon A Benediction Dedicated to the Future, Huston-Tillotson Student Union & Seabrook Chapel
Does Healthy Soul Still Have Soul? - Cooking demo and breakfast-to-go by Natural Epicurean Academy of Culinary Arts
At Table with 10-year-old Mikaila Ulmer, Austinite, Shark Tank winner, and founder of BeeSweet Lemonade.
Nicole Taylor and Anne Pope will capture select highlights for podcast.
Other Stuff to Know
The ticket price is $275 and includes admission to all events and meals. Seats are still available, but capacity is limited to 130.
Purchase tickets here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/soul-summit-a-conversation-about-race-identity-power-and-food-tickets-16265615895
All three venues are located in East Austin’s African American Cultural Heritage District, between 7th Street, 11th Street, Chicon and Interstate-35.
A small number of rooms has been reserved at a rate of $159 per night at the Sheraton Austin Hotel at the Capitol, which is located about a mile from the Carver Museum and Huston-Tillotson University. There are plenty of other hotels and motels in the area to suit your budget, but reserve quick: Austin is a busy festival town — even in June.
To book a room at the Sheraton, ask for The SANDE Soul Summit Room Block or visit the event website here: https://www.starwoodmeeting.com/Book/TheSANDEYouthProject
You shouldn’t need to rent a car, unless you prefer not to walk, or plan to explore outside the District. Several popular restaurants, bars and food trucks are within walking distance. All venues have ample parking available.
Registration will be open on Friday, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., and again on Saturday morning from 7:30 to 10 a.m. A program schedule and list of attendees plus other goodies will be provided at registration.
Sessions in the Carver Museum and Huston-Tillotson Chapel will be air-conditioned so business casual is just fine. Lightweight clothing and comfortable (and I mean comfortable!) walking shoes are recommended for the Cultural Heritage District Tour and Saturday night party. We will be outside with some indoor seating, misters and tents. Expect lots of standing while you nibble.
Got questions? Feel free to post here.
See you soon!