The 2018 Taste of Black Austin culinary team is comprised of emerging and seasoned talent of food professionals, entrepreneurs, and food purveyors. The Greater Austin Black Chamber of Commerce centers the importance of highlighting local talent and encourages the Austin community to support the various businesses within our great city.
Joi Chevalier is an honors graduate of Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts who combines the best of her technology background with her love of culinary arts in a food+tech incubator called The Cook’s Nook, which is focused on developing early stage food entrepreneurs and companies. Through her culinary experiences company, food+cultures at The Cook’s Nook, Joi has developed and supported food events around Central Texas, including Austin City Limits Festival, Austin Food and Wine Festival, Somms Under Fire, World Fantasy Convention 2018 and Taste of Black Austin. She speaks regularly on entrepreneurship, food+tech, product management, and the opportunity for women and African-Americans not only in technology, but also through food entrepreneurship. Joi is the chair of Girl Scouts of Central Texas Alumnae Committee, and is on the board of the Austin Astronomical Society. When she’s not at The Cook’s Nook, she’s tending roses, looking through her telescope in state parks, participating in high performance driver’s education events, or traveling with her husband and her niece.
Alexander is one of Austin's most celebrated Black food professionals. The Austin native has spent over 40 years in the restaurant industry and uses his successful business history to encourage African American entrepreneurship in Austin. "Dreaming big is something I've always done and still do," he says. "It took me a long time in my life journey to connect with what's in my heart. I call it the Divine Stirring of the Pudding. How can I make a difference in this East Austin community that I am a product of?"
Chef Demmerick Johnson is a Dallas native who found his culinary foundation at the bottom of Grandma’s apron. His passion for great food & technique were honed over 20 years in the best kitchens of Austin with a resume boasting influential names, including: George Powell, Alan Lazarus, Rene Ortiz, Tyson Cole, Casey Wilcox, David Bull, Parind Vora, Tom Gilliland & James Dumapit.
In 2017, Chef Demmerick enjoyed a breakout year with the debut of his Ladybird’s Austin Kitchen Incubator Project at the Legendary Skylark Lounge after being named the #1 Music Venue in the country by CultureMap. 2018 shall prove to be a busy year for the Ladybird’s Concept, with 2 Brick & Mortar concepts, and a unique spice line in the works. The Ladybird’s Austin Kitchen Incubator was touted as the “Best Late-Night Underground Food” in Austin.
When he’s not working, Demmerick is riding his motorcycle through Austin, gardening in his backyard, cooking at home, actively listening to a mentor, attending a live show at the Austin City Limits Moody Theater, or spending time with family and friends.
Shon Moeller is a Black, Austin, Texas-based chef and artist celebrating the contributions of her heritage through Creole, Southern, Caribbean cuisine, and Gastronomy. Chef Shon's cuisine utilizes seasonal and locally sourced ingredients applying innovative and classical preparation techniques honed over her 18 plus years experience working in the fine dining industry. While paying homage to her Creole southern black heritage Shon explores the avenues that intersect cookery, art, politics and culture. Prioritizing her ethnic roots in the city she grew up in Shon has worked with the Black Arts Movement Austin, The LINKS local chapter and for the second year the Greater Austin Black Chamber of Commerce. In March 2015, Shon opened La Gris Gris an ode to a Creole cuisine, Voodoo Loas and Hoodoo mysticism. La Gris Gris shut its doors early 2017 for Shon to start her events company Conjure Noir Social Aid & Pleasure Club heading up a collective of entrepreneurs, activists, educators, and artists who host soirees, dinner parties, and demonstrations.
One of the original founding members of the Cook’s Nook, Chef JRodi shares her passion for entertaining and love of cooking with 3 Small Plates LLC, a contemporary tapas catering company specializing in culinary exponential experiences, one plate at a time. Drawing from European travels, residences in Spain and Germany, family histories and the love of food, Chef JRodi uses these experiences to cultivate one-of-a-kind flavors, and dishes for clients to experience the artistry of Europe in their backyard. The Texas native began her love of cooking at a young age while standing at the stove next to her grandmother while she cooked. From then on, Chef JRodi was hooked.
Adrian Lipscombe is a native of San Antonio, Texas and spent the last five years in Austin. She is a restaurateur and owner of two companies. Her culinary background focuses on southern food and pastries. She continues to test the limit of flavors of the south in her recipes, as well bridge her family roots of southern cuisines into her dishes.
Lavell’s Catering was founded in 1995, in Austin Texas by Harvey Lavell Merida. Mr. Merida is a native of Austin, Texas. He is also a 13-year veteran of the US Army. While serving in the Armed Forces as a Quartermaster (Food Service Sergeant), Harvey discovered his passion for cooking, and was asked to be a part of the Fort Sill Culinary Team.
As part of the team, they successfully competed in several competitions at Fort Lee in Petersburg, VA. After serving duty in Iraq (Operation Desert Shield) and Italy, Harvey decided to opt for an early retirement and move him and his family back to Austin. Once in Austin, Harvey cooked at various places, as well as volunteered at his local church.
After several requests, he decided to open Lavell’s Catering. Lavell’s Catering is truly a reflection of love and passion for what and who Harvey is. True to their slogan: ” Where we love to cook and cook with LOVE!”
New Leaf Catering
Enrika adores food. Always has, since she was a small child growing up in Mississippi. She grew up intrigued by PBS cooking shows, her grandfather's gardening and her grandmother's uncanny and unfailing knack for entertaining in the truest traditions of "southern lady" charm.
Currently Enrika is working as a personal chef to a prominent Houston family, as well as expanding her New Leaf culinary brand. In her spare time, she enjoys eating good food she doesn't have to cook, shopping for clothes she doesn't need and spending time with awesome people.
Salimah Muhammad has had a passion for the Culinary Arts from an early age. She completed Culinary School at Houston Community College in 2001 and has worked in the industry as a Chef and entrepreneur in the years following. What she loves the most about the food service industry is all of the opportunities that present themselves if you are willing to be exceptional and put in the work. Salimah has been on the Word of Mouth Culinary team for almost 5 years.
Chef Martin Eason is an award-winning chef whose deep appreciation for food developed at a young age in St. Louis. He began his culinary career at the age of 17 working as a bus boy at the well-known family restaurant "Taters Family Grill" in Decatur IL. It was at Taters that his passion for food turned into a desire to be a chef. By age 20 Martin moved back to St. Louis to pursue a career as a professional chef. Over his culinary career, Eaton has worked with top chef master Hubert Keller, and trained under Chef James Tripi, former Executive Chef of Eberly. He has successfully opened two restaurants in Texas including The Grill at Rough Hollow, a staple in Lakeway, Texas. Eaton is currently the owner and chef of Desire Catering, LLC.
Nahika Hillery, former scientist, educator, is now the owner of Kreyól Korner Caribbean Cuisine. She is proud to share carribean culture amongst Austinites after successfully opening the city's first Haitian Caribbean Food Truck. If you are looking to vibe in an island ambience, and taste flavorful Haitian dishes made with fresh herbs and spices, visit Kreyol Korner Caribbean Cuisine. Serving great food is what they do, “It’s an Island Thing”!
Kreyól Korner caters all events including company happy hours/parties, baby showers, grand openings, weddings and more. Please feel free to send an email to KreyolKorner@gmail.com for additional information or questions.