I’m Nik Renee’ Cole. Lifetime Detroiter. Black woman chef and an anomaly in the food industry. There aren’t many chefs that look like me and certainly not enough that get the recognition that they deserve. Not even in a city that has a 78 percent Black resident population. But we exist. We are hardworking, experienced and uber passionate. We make major contributions not just to the local food scene but to the food industry across the world.
Like many others, I’ve been carving out my own space in the industry. For about a decade and a half I’ve worked to create spaces where we celebrate stories and culture and food in the most organic ways that I know how. This is how we celebrate good food, good talent and good ethics.
Detroit is so rich in culture but more often than not people limit themselves on what they eat. Specifically, when it comes to Black food, people tend to eat hyper-locally, disengaging from the idea that Black food has been influenced by geography and time. A whole conversation around Black food usually only refers to soul food. While soul food should be held in high regard, Black food has been influenced on a foundational level by our descendants.
Black food industry workers are being creative in making sure we know where we come from by filling the scene with historical importance and with very futurist ideas. We should embrace that. Black food isn’t just the food we see every day. Historically it spans over many countries and because of its influence here in the States, here in Detroit, it should be celebrated as part of American history. Even the parts that are unfamiliar.
We shouldn’t be shy about trying new things. As for me, I’m eating everything! I’m especially eating all the things in my city, but if I have to go far and beyond to get what I want or try something new; I’m going. My mantra is, I deserve all the fine things in life but my personality is very much homegirl-ish. A little bourgeois Terre à Terre, if you will. I actually think we all deserve that balance and I’m here to introduce just that.
Right now, I’m obsessing over Fried Chicken and Caviar. It’s a pop-up created by myself and Chi Walker of Wild Flower Hospitality and Black Bottom Supper Club. This meal is full of texture. We are serving the crispiest, most beautiful butter-fried chicken that traditionally celebrates Black food, alongside the most delicate, smooth, creamy, and salty caviar. We are accompanying the two with duck roasted potatoes that are crispy on the outside and like a mashed potato on the inside which creates THE perfect bite, and marinated bok choy that will stand upright beside the chicken and make you love it!
Because we’re into the finer things in life, we’ve made the most luxurious chocolate chip cookies with gold flakes. GOLD FLAKES!!! Depending on how classy you are, you can wash it down with a 40 oz Miller High Life or Golden Champale or wine.
Fried Chicken and Caviar isn’t just a meal. In fact, at the first pop-up, we didn’t even serve fried chicken. Fried Chicken and Caviar is a mood and a way of thinking. Fried Chicken and Caviar represents something very comforting and then something associated with luxury.
Fried chicken makes you feel comforted. It reminds you of being a child. It reminds you of someone special who made it. If you smell it cooking, you’re immediately transferred to a happy place and the anticipation of the taste is enough to have you walking circles about the kitchen.
When we think about “Black food” we think about fried chicken. Caviar is a delicacy a lot of people of color usually associate with wealth or luxury and have never tried because it hasn’t been accessible. Black people don’t typically have caviar on their dinner table. So, the name Fried Chicken and Caviar is very much a statement for people of color to get out and get all the things that they desire.
We celebrate Black food by acknowledging deep enslavement and racial influences but also by being progressive. Being progressive in what we eat and how we access food by no means we are disrespecting the past. In fact, the idea that we explore food, culture, influence, and accessibility honors the Black experience across the United States and globally. We celebrate our ancestors by paying homage to the past, the present, and the future.
To find out more about Fried Chicken and Caviar visit www.Friedchickenandcaviar.com.
NIK RENEE’ COLE is the creator and Chef of What Nik Ate, Co-Founder of Fried Chicken and Caviar, Founder of The Speak Easy Detroit, and current Head Chef at The Kitchen by Cooking with Que.