Making history, 2 Chefs Gullah Geechee Soul Food hosted their first Gullah Geechee Grand African Ball at the Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum on Saturday, February 25th.
Let me give you a little backstory on 2 Chefs’ Curtis and Taylor Washington aka Morolayo and OriBemi Akinrinnola Adetutu. During COVID-19, I heard about a locally-owned restaurant on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. that was offering free breakfast every Saturday morning to anyone in need. Arriving with my good friends MiQuan Green along with Marley and Patrick Burns, we found the married couple handing out fresh cooked meals and a beautiful friendship was born.
During one of our talks, Taylor told me that she dreamed of incorporating her Gullah Geechee heritage into the menu at 2 Chefs and of having an African Ball to celebrate black history and culture. Fast forward two years and the mighty parents of 11 children have made both dreams a reality, and I knew I had to be at her first ball to see it happen!
Arriving 15 minutes early, Arra Riggs and I watch as my closest 22-year-old friend drives up. Say hey to MiQuan Green, the uber successful entrepreneur with two locations offering videography, photography, live streaming and printing. Let me tell you about how I met this old school, young dude back in 2016.
The Mediation Center was hosting their annual awards program for kindergarten to senior students when I noticed a young man walking around in a red blazer and talking to guests. I thought he was an employee of the Woodville Thomkins but no, MiQuan was a 10th grade student! From starting his first business at age 11 and opening his first office when he was 15, MiQuan now has four employees, does speaking engagements nationwide and was recently named a Georgia Outstanding Citizen from Senator Derek Mallow.
With him is JaVonte Middleton, the sports director for MiQuan’s MGreen Mentorship Playmakers undefeated youth football team. When the former Jenkins High School and Citadel football standout isn’t on the field, you can find him at the DeVetter Law Firm. With Middleton is his nine year old cousin Ma’Khi Steed who is joining him and MiQuan as the official greeters for tonight's ball.
Inside the ballroom, I find City of Savannah District 1 Alderwoman Bernetta Lanier looking resplendent in red while local fashionista Daniette A. Thomas shines in a custom-designed regal white evening gown trimmed in sequin black. Beside Daniette, Councilwoman Alicia Miller Blakely makes me giggle when she crosses her arms across her chest in a Black Panther stance and loudly whispers, “Wakanda Forever.”
After a pic of her fellow councilwoman Kesha Gibson Carter with her buff husband Sam, I head over to chat with tonight’s host, Dr. Tonia Howard.
The retired school board member tells me, “As a Savannah native with Gullah Geechee descendents, I am proud to lead an event that embraces our culture and heritage, especially during Black History Month.”
Next, I wait for Chief Alagba Babatunde to finish his conversation with legendary storyteller Jamal Toure. Touring the country since 2008, Jamal opens doors to the mind to give a fuller view of local country, culture and history. Always a fan of this quiet scholarly guy, I grab a selfie before heading over to meet the ladies of Forsyth Farmers Market, Director of Community Engagement, Asia Harold, and the Director of Communication, Darriea Clarke.
While chatting with the ladies about the year-round Saturday market that gives local farmers and growers a platform for whole, organic and sustainable healthy food, I see their boss, FFM Executive Director and the Ivory Bay CEO, Dr. Deidre Grim arriving with her husband John. Stunning in a gele, an African head piece for festive and jubilant occasions, Deidre tells me that she found this gorgeous halo/crown at Dupsie’s African Clothing in Smyrna, GA.
Making a lap around the ballroom, I find I AM WOAH Bartending ladies, Yusifha King, Shawntell Holder and Sara Jones, who look like an R&B music trio when they pose for pics while Judith Williams has one of my favorite looks of the night. The Guyana native has a gorgeous gold gele, layers of Indian necklaces and the most lyrical accent of the night.
As more guests walk through the peacock feathered arches, I manage to slow our hostess down for a quick rundown of what to expect tonight.
“My hope is to bring awareness to our people. There is so much about our culture that my people are not aware of. Tonight, you will see the masquerade, African Dancers and Drumming, and the African Artist Oba Ogunlano perform along with the Grand Entrance of the King of Oyotunji and my family,” said Taylor.
She adds, “I know my grandmother is proud of me. Our culture and our food at 2 Chefs Gullah Geechee Soul Food Restaurant, this Annual Gullah Geechee Grand African Ball and our First Annual Gullah Geechee Grand African Children’s Ball during Juneteenth are the very things that she always wanted to bring to our people.”
Mission accomplished my friend!