Best of Philly

2020 Next Big Thing

Omar Tate

Sometimes, a new chef will arrive in Philly and bring an unmistakable energy — a sort of hyper-focused intentionality, a sense of I’ve got big plans for this city. Omar Tate was born and raised in Philly, and he worked in some of the city’s most ambitious kitchens before leaving for NYC to hone his culinary career. As he wove his way through kitchens, following the well-trodden career path of the modern professional chef, he began to explore and amplify Black American foodways — their tragic history, their uncertain future, their cultural complexities, and their constant erasure from the culinary pantheon. Honeysuckle — his NYC pop-up restaurant-turned-takeout operation — was the physical manifestation of his particular brand of culinary activism. Meals began with a glass of “Honeysuckle Red Drink” (his take on Kool-Aid, a staple of his childhood), and the to-go bags included samples of his own poetry. The coronavirus crisis brought him (and Honeysuckle) back to Philly, and he has big plans for this city — particularly in West Philly, where he’s envisioning a community center for which food will, of course, be the anchor. Follow @honeysuckle_projects on Instagram for information on future dinners and pop-ups.