Chef Erick Williams heads virtual dinner-arts series Thursday to benefit anti-racism efforts

Chef Erick Williams heads virtual dinner-arts series Thursday to benefit anti-racism efforts
By Phil Vettel

Chef Erick Williams will join Chicago artist Amanda Williams (no relation) in a virtual dinner-and-conversation event from 6:30-8 p.m. Thursday.

Created by Expo Chicago, the international exposition of contemporary and modern art, the program, titled “Dine&,” seeks to pair culinary experiences with conversations led by figures in Chicago’s artistic, cultural and business communities. Thursday’s event, “Virtual Virtue: What Black is this, You Say?” is intended to be the first of many.

Erick Williams, chef/owner of Virtue restaurant, will create a four-course dinner inspired by Amanda Williams’ work; each dish will feature colors matching those of Amanda Williams’ most recent series. The food itself will reflect heirloom Southern recipes; dishes include watermelon and balsamic cubes, kale salad with blueberries and Midnight Moon cheese, and choice of blackened salmon or braised short ribs.

Meals can be picked up or delivered; there is an optional wine pairing ($65) featuring wines from Black-owned wineries McBride Sisters and Maison Noir Wines. Event sponsor Hennessy Cognac will provide Hennessy X.O Cognac to pair with a silky chocolate ganache with toasted marshmallow, created by Virtue pastry chef Becky Pendola.

Over the course of the meal, there will be a discussion between artist and chef on Amanda Williams’ most recent projects. The latest, What Black is this you say? is a digital series that originated as her response to the Instagram “black out” on June 2. Dinner guests will receive one of the 32 artist proofs from the What Black is this you say? series, a black napkin embroidered with silver thread and accompanied by a hand-painted swatch card. Each limited-edition piece will be signed and numbered by the artist.

The event will take place via Zoom. Tickets are $750; proceeds will benefit Enrich Chicago, a nonprofit organization working to address systemic racism in the arts. Find more information and order tickets here.

EXPO CHICAGO will also collaborate with Open-Editions to create a set of six dinner napkins that adapt Amanda Williams’ work. The set will be available for purchase through Open-Editions beginning Thursday.