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With their annual event “Sips with Soul,” chef David Lawrence (who goes by Lawrence) and Monetta White will take the delicate balancing act of food and wine pairing to the next level.
While there are more than 6,000 wineries in the United States, only a handful are Black-owned. And for the second year in a row, soul food restaurant 1300 on Fillmore, located in San Francisco, will celebrate Black History Month by featuring some of the most prominent Black winemakers, growers and winery owners on February 10.
According to White, who opened 1300 on Filmore in 2008 with husband Lawrence, their restaurant is soulful American cuisine, with food prepared by Lawrence, who is a Jamaican-British chef.
Their event, which will be held at the restaurant, will showcase winemakers from Black Coyote, Brown Estate, Esterlina, and Vision Cellars to name a few, along with cuisine prepared by Lawrence.
“From the beginning we were doing programming at the restaurant in honor of Black History Month, like a chef menu highlighting African-American-owned wineries, and then we decided we needed something fresh. So last year we came up with an idea to tribute and honor African-American wineries and host this event,” White says. “We set up stations and paired food with wine and let our guests roam and network and get to know these amazing Black-owned wineries. Everyone really loved it and we sold out.”
Because of last year’s success, the duo will do much of the same this year and White explained that it will become their “signature event.” According to White, events that highlight Black owned businesses are “incredibly important,” and they can showcase “talent at its best.”
“We are not just highlighting these wine makers just because they are Black owned. We are bringing them to this event because they are producing excellent products and take their trade very seriously. Sometimes people stereotype people of color and think we are not as competitive or as smart as any other winemaker or restaurant owner. But when you look at the facts, companies like Brown Estate are doing a top Zinfandel and have won awards. These are people who are serious in the game and major players.”
Lawrence agrees, and says the excellence that these wine makers bring to the table is what sells bottles.
“Whether it is food or wine that is your specialty, we need to have excellence, and have that passion and that drive. These winemakers really have that and it becomes bigger than a Black and White thing,” Lawrence says. “But at the same time, it feels great when you have a bottle of wine and you say to yourself, ‘Wow this is really good.’ Then you find out that the winery is Black owned and it becomes part of our job to not only support that product, but to also publicize that it exists and that there are African-American players in the field that are affluent and amazing at what they do.”
Long after the upcoming weeks when the event is a focal point in San Francisco, White says they will continue to support Black-owned businesses, as well as dispel stereotypes that surround their own restaurant.
“When David and I opened we had naysayers that said we were crazy to open a restaurant in the hood and that we would be stereotyped to have bad service and bad customers. But here we are seven years later with stellar service, amazing soul food, and an incredible clientele,” White says. “I feel that wherever you decide to build a business, it is up to the business owner to set the expectations and with our high expectations we have comfort food done well paired with exceptional wine made by serious connoisseurs.”
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