Mar 24, 2023 - Food and Drink

Popular dinner series pays homage to hip-hop and culture in Charlotte

A dinner series called Serving The Culture aims to provide a taste of hip-hop through food.

I recently attended a dinner — with the theme Ladies First — at Lenny Boy Brewing in honor of International Women’s Month. Here’s a look at everything you need to know before you attend their next one.

What’s happening: Since 2019, Serving The Culture has hosted themed dinner parties across the city.

  • Co-founders Shelton Starks, Winston Robinson and Jamie Barnes aim to educate the community through food and hip-hop. 
  • The event happens quarterly with dinner themes previously inspired by artists like Jay-Z, Wu-Tang, Mary J Blige and Missy Elliot.

Why it matters: The series is an ode to hip-hop that also showcases some of the city’s most talented Black chefs and mixologists.

  • Barnes, owner of What The Fries, tells us this event has provided a platform that exposes people to their creative cuisines.

“Dinner events happen like this in Charlotte and many of us aren’t included. This has given those same opportunities to Black chefs,” Barnes said.

Chef Courtney Evans from Leah & Louise describing her Meg Thee Stallion-inspired dish.

Menu: The dinner features a curated 10-course tasting menu based on the theme of the event.

  • Every dish is centered on a song or artist a chef selects. As plates are served, chefs explain how they approached the dish using the ingredients’ connection to an artist you’ll listen to. 
  • At the dinner I attended, chef Courtney Evans from Leah & Louise created a dish inspired by rapper Meg Thee Stallion’s favorite food — pickles. The dish included a charred sweet potato bao bun with smoked braised lamb, spicy carrot juice, fried herb crumb and “kimilize” — Evan’s take on kimchi pickles.
Chef Sydney Green’s rapper Eve-inspired dish was Peruvian chicken thigh, stone ground gritty cake and brown butter Nutella.

“You should leave with a deep understanding of what you ate. Hopefully, you’ll also learn something new about hip-hop artists and their music,” Starks said.

Drinks: Local mixologists craft five cocktails and explain their use of the particular spirits in each.

The Bia-inspired cocktail was a mix of Leblon Cachaça, Lillet Rosé, Yellow Chartreuse and a hibiscus passionfruit cube.

Entertainment: Between courses, Robinson engages with the audience through games and hip-hop trivia for a chance to win a prize.

  • Other competitions included dance and rap battles led by a live DJ for various prizes. Plus, local artists showcase their artwork for guests to purchase.
  • Celebrities including comedian Tommy Davidson have also attended these dinners as surprise guests.
Local artists showcase their artwork at every dinner series.

Cost: Tickets range from $125-$150 for the event, which usually runs for three to four hours. 

  • Tickets must be purchased online in advance due to the limited number of seats. Past dinners have served up to 200 guests.
  • Attendees must be at least 21 years old. 

What’s next: Serving the Culture’s next dinner will be held in June. Check their Instagram for updates on the theme, location and tickets.


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