Sometime in the near future, Dominick Lee will leave Houston for New Orleans. The chef made a name for himself in the kitchen at Poitin, but with that restaurant closing permanently during the COVID-19 pandemic, he figures it's a good time to head back to his home and bring what he's learned to the Big Easy culinary scene.
"I want to make Creole food, and I want to make it in a more elevated and thoughtful way," Lee says. "I want to educate the people that it's more than jambalaya and shrimp gumbo."
He'll make the drive east on I-10 soon enough, saying he'll move once New Orleans's economic situation—fueled mostly by COVID-19—improves. Until then he's hanging out in Houston and hosting a couple of dinners. His collaborative dinner series with Kulture's Dawn Burrell, the Sweet Tea Supper Club, begins Saturday at Jonny Rhodes's Broham Fine Soul Food & Groceries with a menu of elevated and thoughtful Independence Day barbecue favorites.
They'll be cooking up a sweet tea-brined, smoked half chicken with Tabasco honey glaze; brisket sandwiches with brisket-smoked sauce; confit Duroc pork ribs with Carolina mustard barbecue sauce; and Creole macaroni and cheese (spaghetti oven baked in a cheese-egg custard). Other sides include barbecue baked beans, potato salad, and smashed cucumber salad. For dessert, there's plum hand cobbler. Items are available à la carte and can be ordered online for pick-up. While walkups are welcome, the chefs recommend ordering ahead of time and going with takeout.
The series will continue July 18 with an all-vegetarian dinner at Sweetwater Farms. The chefs promise a socially distant dinner experience on the farm, featuring a menu using produce sourced from Sweetwater. Then, on July 31, Lee and Burrell will end the supper club with an all-seafood, socially distant dinner on a private Pearland farm.
"We want to be teaching people about the food that's around them," says Lee. "Also, you can still have a good experience and be safe at this time."
Last fall Lee and Burrell collaborated with Rhodes of Indigo and chef Chris Williams of Lucille's on the Food Apartheid Dinner Series, which focused on raising awareness of Houston's food deserts. These chefs have made it a point to educate diners on the history of food, specifically Southern and Gulf food, making connections to the history of slave trade and structural racism across cultures and continents.
Lee credits his peers, especially Rhodes, with helping him grow into a chef who also educates, setting him up for the next phase of his career.
"Myself, I always wanted to make Southern food and let it open like that," says Lee about why he appreciates Rhodes. "But he makes you question oneself, who you are and where you come from, and from that comes a sense of pride of who you are and the culture that you came from, and then wanting to understand it better."
The Sweet Tea Supper Club barbecue pop-up runs from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday. You can pre-order food here.