Featured Photo: Guests eat during a group meal prepared by Chef Hardette Harris in 2015. Photo: Jim Noetzel.
Slow Food North Louisiana, Chef Hardette Harris and a handful of other community partners have announced details of a very different kind of food event. The Shreveport Reconciliation Dinner, a dinner with the goal of opening a dialogue on race relations and social justice in Shreveport, will be held at 6 p.m. on Saturday, August 27 at The Petroleum Club in downtown Shreveport. Modeled on a similar dinner held in Charleston, South Carolina in 2015 (itself a recreation of a historic dinner that took place in 1865 at the end of the Civil War), the goal of the Shreveport Reconciliation Dinner is to “begin a conversation during a unique culinary experience that will culminate in each attendee bringing back to his or her group ways to continue this dialogue.” In attendance will be 80-100 individuals who have “made a difference in the areas of social justice, civil rights, culinary outreach, or creative endeavors.”
Chef Hardette Harris, whose menu for the evening is already live on the website, is uniquely qualified to bring people together for a meal like this. Chef Harris hosted an event called The Dream Dinner in Minden in 2014. The night featured a presentation by James Beard Award-winning “soul food scholar” Adrian Miller and brought together a racially diverse group of diners for conversation and fellowship. Harris sees the goal of the Reconciliation Dinner as very similar to her 2014 event.
“We don’t want people to debate or argue. We just want them to sit down and eat, with no agenda, and just talk about whatever comes to their minds, in the spirit of reconciliation,” Harris said. “There’s so much going on in society right now. I think there’ll be a lot to chat about.”
Unlike most culinary events, there’s no way to purchase tickets to the Shreveport Reconciliation Dinner. Guests must be nominated and invited. If you know someone who would make a great Shreveport Reconciliation Dinner invitee, organizers ask that you nominate them using this form on the website. Organizers are also in search of a few more sponsors for the event; sponsor info is available here.
If you’d like to learn more about the 1865 dinner prepared by Nat Fuller, which inspired this event, there’s a great episode of the Southern Foodways Alliance’s Gravy podcast all about it.