A Juneteenth Jubilee

4 Top Chef contestants serve up 'immersive' Juneteenth dinner experience in Houston

4 Top Chef contestants serve up immersive Houston Juneteenth dinner

Dawn Burrell Late August
Dawn Burrell will host three of her fellow Top Chef contestants. Photo by Jenn Duncan

Four contestants on the current season of Top Chef are uniting in Houston for a special Juneteenth celebration. Houston chef Dawn Burrell will be joined by chefs Nelson German (Sobre Mesa, Oakland, California), Kiki Louya (RWCF, Detroit), and Chris Viaud (Greenleaf, New Hampshire) to create Jubilee, which is described as an "immersive, five-course dinner experience that will highlight the idea of 'freedom' throughout the African diaspora."

Held at the Bisong Art Gallery, which is owned by four Black women, the four chefs will create the meal using locally sourced ingredients and pair them with beverages from three Black-owned businesses: Highway Distillery, For The Culture Brewing, and bottles from Black winemakers selected by Branwar Wines. Specific dishes are under development, but the chefs plan to showcase food and cultural elements from Nigeria, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and America.

"It gives me great pride to team up with my fellow Top Chef season 18 family on my home turf, for a culinary experience that gives reverence to our rich history," Burrell said in a statement. "Our goal is to use our respective cooking styles to celebrate Juneteenth nearly a century and a half later, while showcasing innovative riffs on dishes that represent freedom across our collective cultural experiences.

"After this past year of racial reckoning combined with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our industry, we hope this dinner serves as a beacon of light for all who join us."

In addition to culinary artistry, the visual arts will be represented in a number of ways. Houston artist Robert Hodge will select works that depict Juneteenth themes, and popular apron maker Hedley & Bennett will supply the chefs with custom gear. Contemporary artist Wayne J. Bell will be live painting at the event.

Burrell is a former Olympian-turned-chef who earned a James Beard Award semifinalist nomination for her work at Kulture. She will open Late August in partnership with Lucille's chef-owner Chris Williams later this year.

Proceeds from the event will benefit Lucille's 1913, the non-profit started by Lucille's Hospitality Group that has distributed more than 250,000 since its founding in 2020. Tickets — $250 for individuals or tables of six for $1,200 — are available via Eventbrite