An Inside Look At Chicago Black Restaurant Week

Local News

An inside look at Chicago Black Restaurant Week

By Audrina Bigos

/ CBS Chicago

‘The Shrimp Man’ among influences of Chicago Black Restaurant Week

‘The Shrimp Man’ among influences of Chicago Black Restaurant Week 04:06

CHICAGO (CBS)– This Black History Month, CBS 2 is highlighting the influences and ingredients of Chicago Black Restaurant Week.

It’s a celebration of Black culture through food that runs through Feb 26. 

From showcasing southern staples and soul food to secret recipes from momma’s kitchen. You can find all participating restaurants here.

The late Finnie Haire is the namesake of a South Side shrimp staple. 

In, the early 90’s Haire retired from the post office and started selling shrimp out of a red caboose on 83rd Street and Stoney Island Avenue.

People called him  the “Shrimp Man,” but that recipe came from his mom. His mom brought him in the kitchen, taught him this recipe and said this is how you’re going to make money.

“It’s her Texas, Louisiana family trade secret recipe,” restaurant owner of Haire’s Gulf Shrimp Aisha Murff said. “And it was a hit.”

So much so, that Haire’s Gulf Shrimp became his longtime business. It now sits near 74th Street and Vincennes Avenue. 

No frill. No fancy. Just good ol’ good shrimp.

During Chicago Black Restaurant week, manager Catrina Wilson and owner Murff hope more people will come taste the family recipe.

The week is bringing these recipes and these dishes to the mainstream for people all over Chicago to experience

 “It’s just important to make sure we never forget those recipes,” Lauran Smith, Chicago Restaurant Week founder, said. 

Like the comfort food at Luella’s Southern Kitchen in Lincoln Square. The restaurant is named after Luella who migrated from Mississippi to Chicago in 1943.

She taught her grandson chef Darnell Reed how to make the soul food that’s served at the restaurant today.

Smith started Chicago Black Restaurant week seven years ago to help market Black-owned businesses to the masses.

In Illinois, only 9% of restaurants are Black owned. That’s less than any minority group tracked by the National Restaurant Association.

“Not only do we need to advocate for ourselves, but we need a great support system to help us,” Smith said. 

Meet Chesaree Rollins, owner and chef at CheSa’s Bistro & Bar.

“One hundred percent gluten free, New Orleans style Cajun creole food,” She said. “That includes the jambalaya, the gumbo, catfish, shrimp. Whatever you’ll get in New Orleans, you’re going to get here.”

Her restaurant has a new location in Avondale, which she opened in October. An upgrade from serving meal on wheels only.

“We’ve gone from the food truck to the fine dining experience, so it gives people a place to call home,” Rollins said. “It’s a proud moment where I get to contribute and be an advocate for Black owned restaurants.”

She is one of the newest Black-owned restaurants in Chicago.

“For me, it’s history, being a part of history,” Rollins said. 

Audrina Bigos

Audrina Bigos is an anchor on the CBS2 Morning News.

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