5 Pop-Ups Serving Up Vegan, Jamaican, and Everything in Between
Some of the most memorable meals I’ve had haven’t always come from a restaurant. For chefs who don’t have a brick and mortar restaurant, pop-ups are the next best thing. But the ones that leave an impression are intentionally curated, sometimes multi-course events that give an intimate look at the chef, their story, and allows them to show their creativity. If you happen to catch these names and they are hosting a pop-up event, don’t sleep. Go support. And enjoy. Here are the queens behind five pop-ups you won’t want to miss for an enjoyable dining experience.
5. Chantele Jones – VDaLish: Vegan Cuisine & Desserts
If you’re vegan or looking to incorporate more plant-based meals, check out Chantele Jones of VDaLish. VDaLish offers catering, group cooking classes, and fun themed pop-ups from May through September. These include a vegan fiesta for Cinco de Mayo, and “Good for the Soul Food Sunday,” where guests dine on classics with a vegan twist, like no meat loaf, mac n cheez, candied sweet potatoes, and lemon cake. Chantele can also be found at other events around the city, such as V313: Detroit’s Premier Vegan Celebration, held at Eastern Market this past March.
4. Mama Nezaa – Paradise Natural Foods
Mama Nezaa has been feeding the city vegan food since the eighties, and as a Jamaican born-Detroiter, her menu reflects the Black diaspora. At her pop-ups, you could find creole red bean stew with vegan chorizo and jasmine rice; corn muffins; peach/mango cobbler, double chocolate cake; or jerk bbq burgers. Find Mama Nezaa popping up at D-Town Farm, on Livernois for Market on the Ave, or at her Healthy Friday pop-ups around the city.
3. Le’ Genevieve Squires & Brittiany Peeler – Experience Relish
The team behind Experience Relish – Le’ Genevieve and Brittiany – has been on the scene for a little over two years. Last year, they were part of some newsworthy pop-up experiences, often with an all women roster. These include a collaborative pop-up dinner, along with 3 other women food entrepreneurs; and the Dream Café – a 3 day, pop-up restaurant that demonstrated what a just and equitable food system could look like with people of color driving it. The duo also hosted Saturday pop-ups out of the Good Cakes and Bakes bakery for about eight months, where folks could get their fill of watermelon kale salad; shrimp and grits with perloo gravy, brown buttered shrimp, and micro greens; and sweet potato empanadas with honey thyme crème fraiche and huckleberry compote. Look out for Experience Relish at more curated events this summer, and they’ll be back for Saturdays at Good Cakes and Bake.
2. Reniel Billups – Irie Occasions
If you’re looking for some island flair, check out Reniel of Irie Occasions. A Jamaican native, she brings an island twist to her meals – whether that’s tacos or poutine. She was also one of the seven local chefs who participated in last year’s Dream Café. She hosts regular pop-ups Friday through Sunday, and that’s not including any extra events. Her signature event is on Saturdays at Brooklyn Street Local in Corktown, where you can get favorites like jerk chicken, curry goat, brown stew snapper, oxtails, rice and peas, and brown stew cauliflower. But that’s not all. Other themed pop-ups include roti tacos, where you can choose from curry goat tacos, and spicy quinoa and lentil tacos. There’s the strictly ital event, featuring crispy chik’n fried cauliflower and waffles; and sweet jerk lentil sliders. You can even get po’boys, irie-style, like blackened salmon po’boy or whiskey bbq jackfruit po’boy.
1. Ederique Goudia – Gabriel Hall
Ederique, or “E” as she is affectionately known, not only hosts her own pop-ups, but she is instrumental in organizing dining events that bring other up-and-coming women chefs and food entrepreneurs together. The New Orleans-area native is co-owner of Gabriel Hall, a creole-based restaurant, bar and live music venue that’s currently under development. In the meantime, you can catch Ederique at bi-monthly themed Gabriel Hall pop-ups, all featuring mouth-watering creole signatures like grits and grillades, gumbo, and po’boys. Other pop-ups include Brunch for Dinner, and Fat Tuesday, where folks got their fill of voodoo poutine, creole cornbread, and dirty rice egg rolls. Ederique is also the chef-in-residence for the Shady Ladies organization, which brings emerging women authors to the city for an elevated book club experience – one that includes cocktails and multi-course dinners.
Who is your favorite pop-up queen in Detroit? Shout her out in the comments!