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Derek Mosley is a portal to Milwaukee. Each month, he joins Lake Effect to talk Black history, the local food scene and whatever else he's discovered.

Black Lens explores rich history of African American food culture with 'For the Soul' narrated tasting

Candied sweet potatoes, macaroni and cheese and fried chicken — some of the featured food of this tasting.
Derek Mosley
Candied sweet potatoes, macaroni and cheese and fried chicken will be some of the featured foods of the 'For the Soul: A Narrated Food Tasting & Conversation' event with Milwaukee Film's Black Lens program.

Black Americans have always been an integral part in America’s food culture throughout history. With great food often comes great conversation and fellowship, and it’s those key elements that are the goal of Milwaukee Film’s Black History Month upcoming event, “For the Soul: A Narrated Food Tasting & Conversation" on Feb. 26.

The event is sponsored through a partnership with Marquette University's LubarCenter for Public Policy Research and Civic Education and its director Derek Mosley. Mosley, a frequent contributor to Lake Effect through his Monthly with Mosley discussions, and Tarik Moody ofHYFINwill explore the rich history of African American food culture by co-hosting this event. For the two collaborators, partnering on this project is something that they've been hoping to do for a while now.

The first spark of this idea happened when both Mosley and Moody were serving as judges in the annual James Beard Culinary awards last year. Excitement grew as they discussed how an event that focused on and celebrated African American cuisine in Milwaukee could bring people together and benefit the community.

"Our goal is to try and get people together to talk, to listen, and to fellowship with each other. And we thought, it's Black History Month, it'd be a great idea to bring people together over food ... And then while we do this we're going to tell you a little story about all the dishes you're going to eat that night because it's all part of the African diaspora," Mosley explains.

The event celebrates African American cuisine while also supporting local African American chefs and establishments. It will be held at Turning Tables, which Mosley notes is owned by an African-American woman, and will feature food prepared by African American chefs. The menu will feature prominent African American dishes such as fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, candied sweet potatoes, brisket, cornbread and sweet potato pie.

View of the building from MLK Drive.
Kitonga Alexander
Milwaukee Bronzeville Histories
Pepperpot on MLK drive is one of the participating restaurants of the event.

For example, Mosley says that the common staple of macaroni and cheese is an adaptation of a French macaroni pie that was developed by a man named James Hemings, who was enslaved by Thomas Jefferson. He notes, "I don't know if there's a kid in America who doesn't eat macaroni and cheese and just to know that it was brought to our culture by an Enslaved African."

Mosley adds that his excitement for the event goes beyond the food itself. It's an opportunity for people to sit and dialogue over something that is a basic and universal need regardless of the differences that typically divide us.

“We come to the table with something in common: we both have to eat. And then we realize from talking to each other that we have more and more in common. And it’s that fellowship, that’s what’s been missing,” he says.

Outside of events happening throughout Black History Month, Mosley says that the best way to change the way African American food and the culture surrounding it has been traditionally overshadowed is to "patronize, patronize, patronize!"

Here's a few of Derek Mosley favorite Black-owned restaurants in Milwaukee:

  • Daddy’s Soul Food & Grille– 754 N. 27th Street Milwaukee, WI 53208
  • Heavens Table BBQ – 5507 W. North Avenue Milwaukee, WI 53208
  • Big Daddy’s BBQ & Soul Food – 9201 W. Capitol Drive Milwaukee, WI 53222
  • Pass Da Peas – 7870 W. Appleton Avenue Milwaukee, WI 53218
  • Mobay Café – 1022 S. 1st Street Milwaukee, WI 53204
  • Pepperpot 2215 N. Dr. MLK Drive Milwaukee, WI 53212
  • Nino’s Southern Sides – 4475 N. Oakland Avenue Milwaukee, WI 53211
  • Immy’s African Cuisine– 2847 N. Oakland Avenue Milwaukee, WI 53211
  • The Q – 2730 N. Dr. MLK Drive Milwaukee, WI 53212
  • Belli’s Bistro & Spirits – 2643 S. Kinnickinnic Ave Milwaukee, WI 53207
  • 1700 Pull Up – 1848 W. Fond du Lac Avenue Milwaukee, WI 53205
  • Mr. Perkins Family Restaurant – 2001 W. Atkinson Avenue Milwaukee, WI 53209
  • Funky Fresh Spring Rolls – 3536 W. Fond du Lac Avenue Milwaukee, WI 53216
  • Turning Tables – 1034 Vel R. Phillips Avenue Milwaukee, WI 53203


Audrey is a WUWM host and producer for Lake Effect.
Rob is All Things Considered Host and Digital Producer.
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