Soundbites: Vinyl Tasting Pop-Up Honors Dilla, Detroit, Donuts and More!

(Chef Jermond Booze and Chef Amber Beckem)

What’s better than food and music in Detroit, a city known for its soulful music and for its delicious cuisine?

Nothing really.

With the taste and sound of Motown being legendary in their own right as chefs and musicians carefully master their craft locally – with culture infused into every bite and sound — it is easy to see why mixing the two brings things to another level.

An upcoming private dinner, Vinyl Tasting, hopes to do just that. Curated by Chef Jermond Booze and Chef Amber Beckem and inspired by J Dilla’s Donuts. Attendees can listen to the classic album Donuts via a live DJ alongside a five-course plated dinner, with each course accompanied by a wine pairing inspired by their favorite songs. The chefs explain each course as how it was inspired by the song selection and a resident sommelier breaking down the wine selections. 

The interactive experience is for the foodie and music lover. It will be a special night for Detroit as attendees celebrate the late J-Dilla, a legendary hip-hop producer, during his birthday month.

Born James DeWitt Yancey, J-Dilla, who passed in 2006 at 32 years old, rose to become a Grammy-nominated hip-hop producer and founding member of Slum Village.

Dilla started playing the violin when he was 4, began composing orchestral music at 10, and took up the viola at 12. The first musician he truly loved was Bach. Jay D died on February 10, 2006. His custom-made Minimoog Voyager synthesizer created his famous and distinctive beats. His Akai MIDI Production Center 3000 is displayed at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History Culture in D.C.

Booze, a native of Little Rock, Arkansas, told the Michigan Chronicle that Dilla’s music partially inspired him to move to Michigan for college, and he sees a lot of intersections between his life and Dilla’s. 

“It’s only right we bring y’all Detroit’s own beat master/music producer J Dilla Donuts for Black history and his birthday month,” Booze said in an Instagram post. “

The long-awaited pop-up event is part of the programming from Taste the Diaspora’s recognition of “Black Food As Resistance” For Black History Month 2023.

Taste the Diaspora, now in its third year, is an initiative that celebrates the African diaspora’s food, culture, and contributions by bringing awareness to how African Americans, for decades, have utilized food to resist historical and ongoing events of oppression.

This year’s theme of Black Food as Resistance will foster a consciousness around food and its critical role in the fight for Black liberation.

Taste the Diaspora Detroit was founded by Raphael Wright, founder of Urban Plug L3C and Neighborhood Grocery; Ederique Goudia, chef and founder of In the Business of Food; and Booze, chef and founder of June Consulting and classroom facilitator for Detroit Food Academy. 

 Booze said that as a self-proclaimed “hip hop head” he knows the impact that Dilla has made and is proud to recognize that while honoring him and his fans, in the process.

“This is a full-circle moment in my life,” Booze said, adding that helping curate the menu is a whole moment for him, too, because it evokes memories for him and something more. “I’m known for being a chef but this music is the thing that drives me. Music is the beat of my life. …This has touched me in a spot and makes me feel whole almost.”

Beckem told the Michigan Chronicle that working with Booze on this project is a one-of-a-kind experience.

“This is a very special album to me,” Beckem said of Dilla’s music. “We’re really excited.”

She added that it’s all about “going back to love” through the music, food, and vibes on tap.

“We are showing our love and just the love of the people here in Detroit have for J Dilla,” she said. “We definitely take pride in the love and showing our food.”

Some of the menu options are a play on Detroit classics like a coney dog chili and some elements of Dilla’s music into the menu.

“Me and Booze combined our love for food and music into these dinners and they (the dinners) bring people together with their shared love for that album. It warms my heart seeing guests who may have never have met singing together. It is a great way to connect with our city.”

Vinyl Tasting’s Pop-up is on tap for Sunday, February 19, at Freya, 2929 East Grand Boulevard in Detroit.

Tickets are $80 and $65 without the wine pairing. Seating is limited. Note this is not a BYOB event.

To purchase tickets, CLICK HERE.


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