Omar Tate Has Seen Enough of Your Butter Boards on TikTok

Esquire’s Chef of the Year for 2020 and the owner of West Philly cafe Honeysuckle Provisions talks about viral food trends, fatherhood, and why you really shouldn’t buy a toaster.

Omar Tate / Photograph by Stevie Chris

My full name is … Omar Aquill Tate. My mom got Omar from some book, but I’m not sure which one. It’s an Arabic name. I was raised Muslim.

I grew up at … 7th and Snyder — where my family had lived since the 1930s — until I was five. The neighborhood is now much as it was then: densely packed and populated by Black and Southeast Asian people. After South Philly, we moved to Germantown.

These days, I live in … West Philadelphia, at 46th and Pine — two blocks from Honeysuckle, which is at 48th and Pine.

I learned to cook from … my mother. I’m the oldest of four, so I was charged with cooking dinner for my family while she was at work. She was primarily a social worker, but she also worked in retail and as a fitness trainer, and she sometimes did all three in the same week.

The proudest moment of my life has been … fatherhood. I have three boys: 15 years old, 20 months and three months. Fatherhood feels brand-new all over again.

My boys are always asking me to make them … sandwiches. The oldest wants grilled cheese, because I make the best grilled cheese in Philadelphia. The youngest is still asking Mommy to produce milk. And my 20-month-old likes my tuna sandwiches and turkey sandwiches.

If I’m eating fast food, you’ll find me at … Shake Shack, for a double burger with bacon, raw onions, pickles, ketchup, mustard and cheese.

When people ask me what I do for a living, I tell them … I’m an artist first and a chef and entrepreneur second. I opened my Afrocentric grocery cafe, Honeysuckle Provisions, on October 29th.

One food trend I am sick of is … butter boards. It’s all over TikTok. People do a bunch of different butter spreads and treat it like a charcuterie board, but it’s actually just disgusting.

I’m listening to a lot of … Kendrick Lamar.

My first job in the industry was at … a golf club in Phoenixville. Then I went to Nectar in Berwyn and then, in 2009, to Fork, and then to New York in 2013 before returning to Philadelphia in 2020.

If asked to run for political office, I would say … absolutely not. It’s a mafia.

One thing I can’t do that I really wish I could is … sleep well.

When Esquire named me Chef of the Year in 2020, I celebrated by … hanging out with my wife at my home, drinking champagne. This was 2020. COVID. There were no celebrations.

Five years from now, I’d like to be … standing in a second Honeysuckle Provisions. I’d like to open more in Philly and maybe in Camden or Wilmington.

My secret talent is that I can … sing Bobby Brown’s “Every Little Step” really well. The last time I did it at karaoke, people went crazy.

In my previous life, I think I may have been … a surgeon. I love butchery.

One kitchen item nobody needs is … a toaster. Single-use. You can toast bread in a pan or the oven or even an air fryer.

If you want to come work for me, you have to be … curious and open-minded. And that’s all. I can teach you literally everything else.

Published as “One of Us: Omar Tate” in the February 2023 issue of Philadelphia magazine.