Capturing the culture that makes Detroit what it is.

Monthly archive

August 2014

Taste of Ethiopia

in Around Detroit by

The cultural experience of Taste of Ethiopia in Southfield MI is one of a kind. For years it’s been one of my favorite restaurants in the Metro-Detroit area. It is a family run business that has now expanded into food manufacturing and distribution. Meskerem “Meskie” Gebreyohannes started the business in 2005 upon moving to the Detroit area.

Meskie was born in Ethiopia. Her whole life she’s embraced, enjoyed, and celebrated the culture. “As a child I learned to prepare meals and dishes for many people. In Ethiopia everyone who lived in the same community who were close in age are considered brothers and sisters. So when meals were prepared they were always made for many brothers, sisters, uncles, aunties, and grandparents. The idea of making a meal for less than ten people is American.” This same humble attitude that Meskie learned to make cuisine with is the same spirit that inspires the Taste of Ethiopia restaurant.

Meskie, Tatse of Ethiopia platter, and students
Meskie, Tatse of Ethiopia platter, and students

Taste of Ethiopia was birthed in Toronto ON. Conceptually Meskie wanted her family to share a business that offered guests a glimpse into their culture and cuisine. Today that legacy continues in food manufacturing. Hiyaw Gebreyohannes (Meskie’s son) has lead the way in making, distributing, and marketing Taste of Ethiopia foods to grocery shelves. Since 2012 distribution in Whole Foods and New York City grocers has welcomed their products. Click here to read the review featured in the New York Times newspaper.

Hiyaw & manufacturing staff, Taste of Ethiopia products
Hiyaw & manufacturing staff, Taste of Ethiopia products

Taste of Ethiopia has a number of dishes available for all guests. Specialty meals for vegetarians and vegans are provided as well. My favorite dishes are the curry chicken, plantain, cabbage & carrots, red lentils, and the injera (Ethiopian bread). Taste of Ethiopia also offers more of the Ethiopian and Eritrean experience with music, films, clothing, and artistry. Reasonably priced and comfortably located I believe the restaurant is perfect for families to share Meskie’s vision.

Taste of Ethiopia is located at 29702 Southfield Rd, Southfield MI 48076 (in the shopping plaza on Southfield Rd between 12 & 13 Mile Rd). The restaurant is open Monday through Saturday, 11am – 9pm. I urge of you to visit, and tell Meskie you know Khary!

Detroit is Different Podcast with Phillip Cooley

in Detroit is Different Podcast by

I welcomed guest Phillip Cooley on the Detroit is Different podcast. Cooley is the owner of Slows Bar B Q, and a staunch Detroit advocate. Phillip’s story was very intriguing. We share a blind faith, and tireless love for the city.

Khary WAE Frazier & Phillip Cooley, Phillip Cooley & wife Kate
Khary WAE Frazier & Phillip Cooley, Phillip Cooley & wife Kate

We discussed his move to Detroit 12 years ago from Chicago. He didn’t find work here for months, but found creativity. Cooley’s travels across the world as a male model has put him in many places, but he’s felt, thought, and believed Detroit is his best home. Cooley’s visions for his artistic, business, and social purpose have been inspired by Detroit. – A house party he had when he first moved here sparked a jam session of hip-hop emcees, jazz saxophonist, key players (on his Mother’s piano), and him on guitar. That moment has committed him to Detroit since.

In the interview we cover his love for Prince, family, and developing business with a social/ community/ and creative mission. Listen in and listen up to this episode of the Detroit is Different Podcast!

7 O’Clock Saturday Stories: Phillip Cooley

in 7 o'clock Saturday Stories by

Slows Bar B Q is one of the premiere restaurants in Detroit. People have traveled from across the world to experience the sauce, chicken & briskets, and bourbon selection. I personally cruise down 14th Street multiple times a year to get mine. This staple of Detroit culture was started by Phillip Cooley.

Phillip Cooley is a naturally creative thinker. We met at the Michigan Citizen Newspaper’s “Two Detroit’s: Gentrification” panel discussion in April of this year (2014). We were both panelists. I immediately asked him to be a guest for my podcast. Phillip gladly accepted. Saturday August 16th 2014 he will be my guest for 7 O’clock Saturday Stories. This is an interview recorded live.

Slow's Bar B Q, and Phillip Cooley at Two Detroit's
Slow’s Bar B Q, and Phillip Cooley at Two Detroit’s

7 o’clock Saturday Stories’ will be held at Le Petit Zinc restaurant in Detroit’s historic Corktown district at 1055 Trumbull St Detroit MI 48216. ‘7 o’clock Saturday Stories’ is a free event that starts at 7PM and welcomes guests of all ages.

Phillip Cooley’s Biography:
Phillip Cooley opened Slows Bar B Q and Slows To Go with various partners and is a general contractor with O’Connor Development. Because of Slows success, Cooley has been afforded the opportunity to help residents of Detroit in need. He works on projects ranging from helping others open small businesses, to designing and building public spaces like Ponyride. He is passionate about Detroit because he believes that it is a Democratic city where all are welcome to participate.

What if … Detroit had a Mixed Drink

in What if ... by

Bars and nightlife are an intricate part of Detroit’s culture. The mix of sports bars, dive bars, cigar bars, and wine bars capture the dynamics of Detroiters. Nightly downtown Detroit welcomes tens of thousands of guests seeking contrastingly different experiences to enjoy a drink. This Detroit is Different post welcomes that diversity by asking four bartenders … “what if Detroit had a drink?”

As a hip-hop artist / song writer names and titles have always intrigued me. The names of mixed drinks at bars have run my imagination for years. The bartenders who decided to title ‘Long Island Teas,’ ‘White Russians,’ and ‘Cadillac Margaritas’ I could talk to for hours. So I decided to question some of my favorite bartenders about what would the mixed drink ingredients be in a ‘Detroit Drink,’ and why?

Cheryl (aka Strawberry) is a native Detroiter who began bartending in Tampa FL in 2006 at Gameworks Sports bar & Arcade. Soon after Cheryl transferred to the now closed Gameworks in Aurburn Hills MI. Today she’s one of the featured bartender at Thomas Magee’s Whisky bar in Detroit’s Eastern Market every Sunday.

8-12-2014 Cheryl
Cheryl of Advanced Mixology

Cheryl and business partner Desiree have now opened ‘Advanced Mixology Bartending School.’ Their bartending school is the first owned by women of color in Michigan. Their school teaches bartending in 24hrs (24 hours of class in either three 8hr days, or four 6hr days). Advanced Mixology provides job placement and certification for all students 18 years and above. Cost for the class is $300. Currently Advanced Mixology is running a $275 special. The Advanced Mixology school is located upstairs above 612 Woodward Foran’s Grand Trunk Pub in the heart of downtown. Classes are 7 days a week 9am – 5pm. If you’re interested in taking the class, contact Cheryl at (313) 656-7502.

Cheryl’s drink is the ‘Detroit Girl’ was based on the diversity and differences of Detroit. The ingredients in ‘Cheryl’s Detroit’ were Peach Amsterdam (Vodka), Amaretto (Almond Liqueur), Limeade, and Strawberry Faygo. The mix between the vodka and liqueur capture the differences in Detroit (Detroit is Different!). Limeade is Cheryl’s the bridge to the world, likening the International crossing of the Ambassador Bridge in Detroit. Strawberry Faygo is Cheryl’s favorite flavor, and a Detroit classic.

Eric is one of my best friend’s in music, and is an only original bartender for Slow’s BBQ who still works there. Eric joined the team at Slow’s BBQ when it was originally planned to be a Bourbon and BBQ bar. This is why the selection of Bourbon and Whisky at Slow’s BBQ is superb.

8-12-2014 multi 1
Cheryl’s Detroit, and Proprietary – Eric’s Detroit

Eric appreciates the feel of Slow’s BBQ because of the bar. The horse shoe shaped design allows more guests in smaller spaces to delve into conversations. This unique configuration has led to the diversity Slow’s BBQ has welcomed since 2006.

‘Eric’s Detroit,’ is his ‘Proprietary.’ The Proprietary is a drink featured at Slow’s BBQ by a mix of bartenders. Eric’s ingredients are Angel’s Envy Bourbon and Cocchi White Wine Americano. Angel’s Envy Bourbon makes an exclusive blend of bourbon for Slow’s (it’s like Heinz Ketchup for McDonald’s). The Slow’s mix of Angel’s Envy has the strong kick all good bourbon needs. This represents the grit of Detroit for Eric. The Cocchi captures the creativity of Detroit.

Rob is also a bartender at Slow’s BBQ. Jokingly Rob suggested the ‘Detroit Drink’ should be a can of Stroh’s Beer. After a long laugh, Rob introduced me to the ‘Negroni.’ The Negroni is a drink that’s becoming trendy by the day. The taste is experiential.

Rob’s ‘Detroit Drink’ is the ‘Negroni.’ The ingredients are Two James Gin, Sweet Vermouth, and Campari. Two James Vodka, is a Vodka made in Detroit’s first distillery blocks away from Slow’s BBQ in Southwest Detroit. Two James Gin is the history of Detroit. Campari liqueur’s bitter and sweet orange taste matches the duality of the beauty and blight of Detroit. Sweet Vermouth is the smooth taste that represents the water and changes in Detroit.

8-12-2014 multi 2
Negroni – Rob’s Detroit, and Phreddy’s Detroit

Phreddy is another one of my closest friends, and artistic supporters. Phreedy also is a featured bartender at the Bronx Bar every Sunday night. For a span of nine years Phreddy as a bartender has witnessed numerous memorable conversations and acts.

Phreddy’s ‘Detroit Drink’ is focused to give an encompassing premise of Detroit. ‘Phreddy’s Detroit’ ingredients are Old Grand Dad Whiskey, Grapefruit Juice, half fresh Lemon, and Sugar. Phreddy’s drink provides a context for the political entity for the original displaced natives of the area we now name ‘Detroit.’ This is represented by the grapefruit juice and lemon. The Old Grand Dad Whisky represents the history of the Black people from the American South (descendents of enslaved peoples) who came to Detroit during the Great Migration. The Sugar in the drink represents the resources Detroiters are striving for.

My Detroit Story: 2008 Tastefest

in My Detroit Story by

In 2008 the Detroit Tastefest featured five of my favorite performers. Nadir Omowale and his Distorted Soul Band, Khary Kimani Turner (brother in name and mentor in game), Ortheia Barnes (my Godmother), Monica Blaire (another Godchild of Mama Barnes), and Carolyn Striho were all headline performers. It was one of the first times in life I knew enough performers at a big event to get a backstage pass, without a backstage pass. All the performances were special. The most memorable was Carolyn Striho’s. It was the second time we performed together, and a day to remember.

Summer of 2008 was a three month party. My friends Brandon Jessup, Kasey Sherman, Mike Willingham, and Dawon Wooden stayed out and about throughout Detroit. Kasey’s from Detroit, and has spent his adult life in Washington DC. In 2008 he managed a hotel. That Summer he spent in Detroit. Though I was home in Detroit, Kasey was on vacation, and sought out no dull moment. When I mentioned I was performing at the Tastefest, Kasey jumped at the opportunity to finally see me perform live. Kasey invited his younger brother Ian Sherman, and our mutual best friend Loren Braxton. Ian is the co-executive producer of my soon to be released “If Detroit were Heaven” album. Ian also is the best producer I work with. We challenge one another to create better music. In 2008 at the Tastefest we met for the first time.

Carolyn Striho, Ian & Kasey Sherman, Lo Braxton
Carolyn Striho, Ian & Kasey Sherman, Lo Braxton

I always enjoyed the feel of the Detroit Tastefest. It was my favorite Detroit festival. It was held in the New Center Area. New Center is relatively close to my home, and down the street from Northwestern HS where I graduated. I appreciated the mix of culture at the Detroit Tastefest. Foods, music, and people filled the streets of West Grand Blvd, Second, and Third Ave. This in memory is an inspirational sight for me. It was the only festival I’d see many people from my neighborhood and high school as an adult.

Carolyn Striho enjoyed and appreciated the chemistry we sparked on stage before. So leading up to the 2008 Tastfest she invited me to perform with her as well. I gladly accepted. I’ve always felt Carolyn’s performance is remarkable. When I share a stage with Carolyn I only look to keep the energy and passion at the height of which she performs. So for the 2008 Tastefest before a full audience cheering her own, I delivered one of my best performances. At the time Scott Dailey and Carolyn (now married) had just begun playing together. Brandon (Carolyn’s bass player at the time, now residing in Boston) and Ron (Carolyn’s drummer) kept a hip-hop rhythm that I could freestyle to (freestyle is the improvisational style of giving a rap performance while creating rap lyrics simultaneously). Carolyn joined in on the freestyle as well. On stage we went verse for verse in eight bar stanzas four times over. I believe the joy of freestyling on stage keeps my presence of mind. I also think freestyling on stage allows me the opportunity to be more responsive and cognizant to the audience. Tastefest 2008 was the culmination of both advantages I find in freestyling. Adding to my performance was the wit and showmanship of Carolyn Striho. Kasey, Ian, and Loren loved the performance. Soon after Carolyn closed out her set and introduced us to Howard Glazer.

Howard Glazer, Sherman Brothers at Mardi Gras, and Kasey, Ann, and I
Howard Glazer, Sherman Brothers at Mardi Gras, and Kasey, Ann, and I

Howard’s an old school rock and roller in spirit, energy, and action. When Brandon saw Carolyn introduce us to Howard he immediately began laughing and telling us ‘that guy’s going to keep you at it.’ The ‘it’ Brandon was referring to was Jagerbombs (Jagerbombs are shots of Jagermeister liquor and Red Bull energy drink). Howard insisted on sharing shots, and Kasey accepted. Loren, Ian, and I had two or three. Kasey and Howard finished off a fifth. As they continued drinking Howard told us stories about classic Detroit rock, and the best ways to get sound from speakers. Backstage between shots Kasey was dancing, inviting over women from the crowd to backstage, and turning backstage into a party. Eventually we filled the backstage area up to the point security kicked us out. Kasey, Howard, Loren, Ian, six or seven women Kasey just met, and I were collectively escorted out the backstage area during the next performance. We parted ways with Howard, bought tickets, and hung out with women.

Tastefest 2008 was pure Rock and Roll.

Taste of Detroit August 2014

in Coming Attractions by

Detroit is Different is gathering a great amount of support thanks to all of you. I’m only 5 months in and am very excited about everything that’s next to come. Please share the website and stories with friends, family, and people you think will appreciate what I’m developing.

The August 2014 theme is ‘Detroit Taste.’ The restaurants, bars, foods, and bakeries throughout Southeast Michigan are world renown. This month’s stories highlight some of my favorite dynamics of that. Also Phil Cooley of Slow’s BBQ will be my featured guest for my Detroit is Different Podcasts that are recorded live at my ‘7 O’Clock Saturday Stories.’

Also in July I began my artistic campaign “43 in 67.” “43 in 67” is an artistic venture in which I’m performing a series of 43 presentations in 67 days. The title of the campaign is inspired by the Detroit uprisings of 1943 and 1967.

Click here to view the pictures of ’43 in 67’ thus far.

Detroit is Different August 2014 “Detroit Taste (Food)”

COMING ATTRACTIONS (Tuesday’s & Thursday’s):


THUR AUGUST 7, 2014/ MY DETROIT STORY: 2008 Taste Fest

TUES AUGUST 12, 2014/ WHAT IF: What if Detroit had a drink?




THUR AUGUST 21, 2014/ AROUND DETROIT: Taste of Ethiopia


THUR AUGUST 28, 2014/ EVENTS: If Detroit were Heaven September 27, 2014

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