Dining With Miss Lil: Hustle & Soul is What WE-TV Wants It to Be

By Lil Nickelson

On Monday, March 19th, 2018 I stopped by the 2nd floor of the Andaz Hotel located across the street from the 42nd Street public library for the premiere event for the new season of Hustle & Soul on WE-TV. The event featured the cuisine that Chef Lawrence Page serves up at his restaurant, Pink Tea Cup. DJ Quest love was spinning the music all evening.

Hustle & Soul is a reality television show about how a soul food chef named Chef Lawrence Page buys the rights to the name of a classic soul food eatery that was in the Village, Pink Tea Cup and he relocates to Brooklyn hoping to elevate the cuisine so that the restaurant gains a Michelin star rating. The new site is in the Fort Green section of Brooklyn at 120 Lafayette Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11238.

Now I tuned in to one episode during season 1 and the front of the house staff was fighting during dinner one evening; I changed the channel and never tuned in again. See I’m a foodie who tuned in to see how the chef was trying to elevate soul food cuisine, so he could receive a Michelin star; that interested me. Even though Chef Lawrence isn’t classically trained I believe home chefs looking to broaden their skills have just as much opportunity to raise up and compete with all others; if it’s about the food.

Related: Listen to Chef Lawrence on the The Danny Tisdale Show.

So, I went to the premiere event, checked out the appetizers they were serving up and the cast members that were there. The food was very pleasing. Lawrence walked in with Ana on his arm and they were dressed to the nines in black and white attire. I saw Sana, the twin waiters – Dominic & Stefen and the new bartender, Jon Jon. I didn’t see the original bartender Candice or floor manager Thandi. Then I decided I had to watch the episodes before I try to give an honest review of what Hustle & Soul is really offering to viewers. WE-TV may like seeing black girl drama play out and turn into WWF female gladiators, but it isn’t the type of atmosphere that I want to dine in; there’s nothing comforting about dining in warfare to me.

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I don’t let angry people serve me food and I certainly won’t spend my money for food to watch black women act in the manner that Ana, Thandi, Candice and Sana display week after week. You ladies are queens, but you act like you have no worth or value and worst of all you’re acting like Chef Lawrence is the prize. He calls his team a family, but where is the respect for family members at? Why is he bedding two of you and making sexual overtones to the other two?

Chef Lawrence I understood why you took your team by Michael White’s Ai Fiore restaurant which has earned one Michelin star rating and three fork and spoon covers; you wanted them to experience what fine dining entails that you’re striving for with the Pink Tea Cup. Let’s examine the one-star Michelin rating Ai Fiore has and how they were obtained. Ai Fiore uses top quality ingredients, has dishes with distinct flavors that are carefully prepared to a consistently high standard. As one might expect of a Michael White restaurant, pastas here are masterful. Begin with perfectly al dente curls of trofie nero intertwined with a spicy Ligurian crustacean ragù of sepia and scallops. Crowned by spiced mollica, it boasts a perfect play on flavor and texture. Fish courses can be even more enticing; dine on one of the brightest, freshest fluke crudos known to this city, served atop Meyer lemon breadcrumbs and enhanced by a generous dollop of American sturgeon caviar. End with a dessert featuring a thin cocoa sable crust and topped with a dark Valrhona chocolate-covered marshmallow, for a delicious and fitting finale.

Michelin stars are a rating system used by the red Michelin Guide to grade restaurants on their quality. … Stars and Covers.

Stars – according to the guide, one star signifies “a very good restaurant”, two stars are “excellent cooking that is worth a detour”, and three stars mean “exceptional cuisine that is worth a special journey”.

Restaurants may receive zero to 3 stars for the quality of their food based on five criteria:

  1. quality of the ingredients used,
  2. mastery of flavor and cooking techniques,
  3. the personality of the chef in his cuisine,
  4. value for money and
  5. consistency between visits.

The “inspectors” as the Michelin Guide calls them are critics that rate restaurants. They are completely anonymous and aren’t allowed to speak to journalists. They are mostly chefs or former chefs who have extensive culinary arts experience. They must pass an official Michelin Guide training in France to be inspectors. They rate the restaurants based on the food quality, personality, consistency of the food, and the mastery of techniques. They make multiple visits to a restaurant before rating the restaurant.

Covers – restaurant inspectors do not look at interior decor, table setting, or service quality in awarding stars – these are instead indicated by the number of ‘covers’ it receives, represented by the fork and spoon symbol. Ai Fiore restaurant has three fork and spoon symbols; very good standard and excellent wine list and no matter where you sit, servers are attentive.

Hearing the chef scream at his mother on Mother’s Day was appalling; I don’t care if he apologized on another day. I don’t like to see people be disrespectful to our elders or to each other. So, Chef Lawrence Michelin restaurant inspectors will rate your food and you on these five items outlined above. Therefore, you need to tone down on your volume when you’re ranting and raving from the back of the house.

Too many reality shows portray blacks in a negative light; Chef Lawrence I’d rather see you carry yourself like President Barack Obama then act like our current President. To the ladies of Hustle & Soul let’ show them what sisters at the top of their game carry themselves in a professional setting. First Lady Michelle Obama said it best; when they go low we go high. Bottom line to get a Michelin star present your food, yourself and your staff like you’re worthy of it! Can you handle it?

Check out more Dining With Miss Lil by Lil Nickelson here.

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