The first ever soul food festival brought pleasure both to the chefs and the visitors.
For more than 50 years, the Cincinnati Music Festival, the second largest urban, and longest-running jazz, and R&B festival, it has also been one of the most anticipated weekends of the year. At the end of July, folks came from across the U.S. for the celebration.
Last summer, Cincinnati marked another milestone. For the first time, the festival weekend included Cincy Soul: The Black Taste of Cincinnati, featuring the region’s top chefs and soul food creators. More than 25 food trucks and booths lined the streets around Fountain Square the symbolic center of the city since the 1800s.
Talk about good eats. Whether you fancy bbq, NOLA grub, down home southern goodness, jerk chicken, pecan pie and other delectable sweets, there was something to please all palates. It was a chance for black restauranteurs to show out and they did.
Taren Kinebrew grew up in the kitchen learning to bake with her grandma. She never lost that passion. A year after leaving corporate life at IBM, in 2009 she birthed Sweet Petit Desserts. She gives new meaning to the saying that good things come in small packages. Try her bite-sized red velvet cupcakes, macaroons, pie tartlets and cake pops – cake and icing on a stick dipped in chocolate and try wiping the smile from your face.
“People were so happy to have an African-American food festival with some of the best of the best representing our city. I was happy to be a part of this. I got visits and orders from people who stopped by our booth. We need this type of event to showcase our culture,” says Kinebrew. “It was my dream to have my own dessert shop, now my mission is to go global.”
Toya Foster is already somewhat of a legend in Cincy. She’s won recognition from the Best of Cincinnati several years in a row.
Her New Orleans culinary creations – shrimp po’boys, catfish and NOLA fare are some of the best anywhere. In addition to her food truck, she has a restaurant, Mardi Gras on Madison. She says proudly, “We have no competition.” Foster says the festival was a great opportunity. “Too often we are left out of this market.” The former consumer finance specialist for GE, was impressed by the outpouring of support. “I had several people track me down after the event, ‘looking for that food from the Black Taste’.”Alabama native Dwan Ward knows a thing or two about bbq, but his take is turkey, no pork anywhere, not in the collards either. His bbq turkey tips are mad juicy, tender goodness. “We got a lot of exposure, especially from out-of-towners,” says the owner of Alabama Que.For sure the cooks are ready for a repeat this soul food festival, and no doubt so are the folks in Cincinnati.