My Pen Is Mighty

The first date tells you a lot about a person. Take notes! Image: Getty.

Throughout the years, I have heard some wild first-date stories. I’ve also heard some of the most romantic tales ever. And, of course, I’ve had my share of dates where the guy was so embarrassingly cheap that he shouldn’t have been allowed to ever enter a restaurant again.

Now, before…

My Pen Is Mighty

Chef Syann Williams in the “Shrimply Spectacular” episode of “Hell’s Kitchen,” which aired in early 2021. Photo: Fox via Getty Images

I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that I almost high-fived the television set during Dominique Leach’s introduction on a recent episode of Food Network’s Chopped.

The Chicago-based chef and owner of Lexington Betty Smokehouse appeared on the “Playing With Fire: Hog Heaven” barbecue-focused episode in mid-August, and she had…

MY PEN IS MIGHTY

Some dress codes at restaurants only materialize after Black patrons show up en masse. Photo: Getty Images

Whenever I go over to my mom’s house, one of my favorite activities is to look through all the family photos. The most exciting album dates back to the 1960s, when she and my father used to throw glamorous dinner and cocktail parties at their Nashville apartment.

I always thought…

My Pen Is Mighty

Will Smith takes a picture with a fan. Note that he is at a promotional event and not at a more intimate family dinner. Image: Getty

Them: If Idris Elba was seated next to your table at a restaurant, what would you do?

Me: I’d have to tranquilize myself so I wouldn’t bother him.

You think I’m kidding? I most certainly am not. Celebrities deserve to be able to eat in peace at restaurants without worrying…

MY PEN IS MIGHTY

Pumpkin spice reportedly was once worth more than gold. But today? It’s beyond basic and has officially jumped the shark. Illustration: Julia Moburg/Medium. Source: Walt Disney Television via Getty Images.

Confession time: I was this close to falling off the Sober October wagon twice this month. Why? Because I spotted apple cider spice-infused cocktails on a couple of menus — one was based off the classic Moscow mule — and I almost lost it!

I didn’t imbibe, but it got…

MY PEN IS MIGHTY

A festively decorated apple cider, complete with a sprig of rosemary, sits on a cheeseboard. Not all drinks require liquor. Image: Getty

I’m one of those people who celebrates her birthday for an entire month. The festivities begin in late August and end late September, and popping bottles complement almost every meal.

But even before that, summer is chock full of occasions designed for liquid indulgences: street festivals, backyard cookouts, rooftop parties…

MY PEN IS MIGHTY

Many hospitality workers are at the mercy of their customers. Photo: Getty Images

There is one reason — and one reason only — why I never took a job in the service industry where tipping was involved: My mother told me not to.

She used to tell a story of her waitressing days in the early 1960s when a White female customer left…

My Pen Is Mighty

In the Black community, we sometimes use food — like this vanilla, caramel and chocolate layered dessert — as a stand-in for skin color. It’s only a problem if folk abuse the practice. Image: Getty

I grew up two houses down from a jolly little kid we all called “Sugarman.” Two of my mom’s best girlfriends were only known by the moniker “Cookie.” If someone ever referred to them by their real names, no one would know who you were talking about. And, in Nina…

MY PEN IS MIGHTY

A chef prepares a dish. Image: Getty

“The rules don’t apply to me.”

That’s a direct quote from Malik Wright, the infamous star quarterback on The Game, a hit television sitcom that ran from 2006 to 2015 (first on The CW, then BET) about professional football players and their enablers. …

New Column Alert: My Pen Is Mighty

A chef prepares a shrimp dish for the Netflix docuseries ‘High on the Hog.’ Image: Netflix

Jessica B. Harris is having a moment. It’s been exactly 10 years since she wrote High on the Hog: A Culinary Journey from Africa to America. Now it’s back on the New York Times Best Sellers List.

This is due to the rousing success of Netflix’s High on the Hog

Audarshia Townsend

Audarshia Townsend is a Chicago-based journalist who covers food & beverages for Chicago magazine, Time Out Everywhere, Eater Chicago, plus many others.

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