Over the course of Chef Omar Tate’s many years in the culinary field (he’s spent the last 10 in some of New York City and Philadelphia’s best restaurants), he’s committed much of his time to uplifting Black farmers, chefs, and creatives in the industry. And on June 29, he’s continuing this mission by kicking off the first installation of the Cultivating Community Dinner Series at at Oko Farms in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, which will support Black farmers by spotlighting their work, their produce, and their stories, as well as the challenges they face.
Also set to take place in Atlanta and Charleston later this summer, the farm-to-table pop-up dinners are coming together as part of a partnership between Tate and Bombay Bramble. Because of the berry-infused gin’s commitment to uplifting underrepresented communities in the culinary world, the collaboration was a natural fit. “It’s been amazing to work with them to bring this intimate dinner series to life this summer and support the underrepresented community of Black farmers, who have such an amazing heritage and produce to contribute to American food culture and restaurants,” Tate tells TZR. “Their stories and contributions really deserve to be told.”
Those stories will be told by some of the farmers themselves, as well as through a seasonally inspired tasting menu featuring courses dedicated to honoring a “hero ingredient” from a rural Black farm. In creating the concept, Tate says he was inspired by “what was being grown and also raised at the farms,” and looked at sourcing locally as a fun challenge.
“The ribs come from Peculiar Pig Farm in South Carolina and are glazed with Bombay Bramble-infused Legacy sauce, our signature barbecue sauce made from blackberry and raspberry. The Up South pickles are a harvest from K&J Organic Farms in South Jersey and a great farm partner of ours at Honeysuckle Provisions,” Tate explains. It’s pulling together ingredients from these farmers, who are usually overlooked, that he says brings him the most joy in the process. “I think that the guests will be able to taste the passion and love that goes into their products.”
Along with that, Tate hopes that the menu will illuminate the disparities that Black farmers face. “There are several factors that inhibit the growth of Black farmers throughout the country,” he says. “The lack of resources is a big one, another is distribution and supply chain issues, and one that I see personally is that the public is just not aware of their existence.”
The menu alone won’t be the only means with which this partnership will tackle those challenges, however. “As part of the Cultivating Community Dinner Series, Bombay Bramble will make a $25,000 donation to the Black Farmer Fund to further this project’s mission to raise awareness of Black farmers across the nation and support this integral community,” continues Tate.
Tate also wants the pop-ups to make an impact on an individual level. “I hope [attendees] can gain greater awareness of Black farmers’ contributions to this country, and also be inspired by the possibilities and delicious results one can get from supporting diverse local farmers for their own home cooking, or entertaining with friends,” he says.