Pearl food hall hosts free party for James Beard recognized San Antonio chef
Phew! It's been a whirlwind. Since chef Nicola Blaque opened The Jerk Shack, she has expanded the business, debuted a new concept Mi Roti, and snagged multiple plaudits. This year, she added another feather to her cap: being named San Antonio's first black woman and Caribbean-American semifinalist in the James Beard Awards' Best Chef: Texas category.
Any way one looks at it, that's cause for celebration. Potluck Hospitality, the operator of the Food Hall at the Bottling Department, is doing just that with a community party honoring her stellar culinary career on February 23.
Army veteran Lattoia Massey (Blaque is her nom de gastronomy) graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in San Antonio before embarking on a successful private chef career, impressing NBA members and others. In 2018, The Jerk Shack debuted to long lines clamoring for Blaques Carribean fare like jerk chicken and braised oxtail.
The acclaim almost instantly followed. Eater named The Jerk Shack to its 2019 best new restaurants in the U.S. list in 2019. CultureMap readers heartily agreed. The same year, the restaurant won the Tastemaker Award for Best New Restaurant, a category voted by the public in a tournament bracket.
On February 23, locals will have a chance to once again have an opportunity to raise their glass to one of San Antonio's most ascendant chefs. The reception, held between 5-7 pm, will feature a spoken piece from poet Andrea "Vocab" Sanderson and remarks from Potluck. DJ Donnie Dee will keep the proceeding lively with a blues, hip-hop, and soul set.
While enjoying light bites and beverages from Mi Roti and Jerk Shack, fans will also have the chance to wish Blaque good luck. There are two more stages the chef has to clear before taking home the coveted James Beard medal. The finalists for this year's awards will be released on March 29 before the winners are announced at a lavish June 5 ceremony in Chicago.