From Jamaican patties to soul food and everything in between, Feed the Soul dining week is delicious way to start Black History Month
By Jesse Cole | January 31, 2024
If you’re plugged in to the Edmonton foodie scene (which, we know you are, since you’re reading this magazine), you’ll know one of the things this city is famous for is its tradition of food-centric festivals.
From Downtown and Chinatown Dining Week to the Taste of Edmonton, residents love the opportunities to celebrate the myriad of culinary delights the city has to offer; make sure to add Feed the Soul Dining Week to the list.
Organized by Feed the Soul YEG — a volunteer-run organization aimed at promoting Black-owned business in Edmonton — the week-long celebration highlights some of the delectable contribution offered by Edmonton’s African and Caribbean communities.
Now in its second year, the dining week runs from February 2 to 11 and will feature 13 restaurants across Edmonton.
Rochelle Ignacio, the founder of Feed the Soul YEG, says the event is a way to elevate a food community she feels is often overlooked, even by the culinarily curious.
“I feel the Black food community has been underserved. I wanted to bring a concept that Edmonton loves — a dining week — but really focus on supporting and contributing to the betterment of my community,” she says. “This is an opportunity to make Black food restaurants more of a household name — to make those neighbourhood gems more visible and inviting.”
But really, Feed the Soul Dining Week is about bridging cultural divides and helping people connect to the culture behind the food, according to Ignacio.
“I … realized there’s so much more. Stories, experiences, relationships and connections that can be created using food as that cultural connecting block,” she says. “We know that people connect through stories, so [the dining week] is a great way to really breakdown some of those stereotypes and share our history of how we came to be here in Alberta.”
Ignacio said about 50 per cent of last years restaurants have returned to participate again with the other 50 per cent being filled by new restaurants eager to take part.
“I think the new businesses saw the momentum that was gained and are really excited about coming on board,” says Ignacio.
With just over a year of operations under their belt (the dining week traditionally happens during Black History Month each year), Ignacio says Feed the Soul YEG’s efforts have already proved fruitful, with community response being largely positive.
“People are finding new restaurants they’ve never heard of and trying new foods and flavours,” she says. “The community response has been supportive and overwhelming.”
Ignacio added she and her colleagues hope to make it a recurring, annual offering for years to come.
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