Celebrating Black History Month with Meals & Memories

Members of our culinary team share their favorite family meals and stories in honor of Black History Month.

Frank McKay Jr. : Jerk Chicken
“This dish reminds me of growing up in Brooklyn, NY when I was around 10 years old. I would frequently go to my friend’s house – his family was from the West Indies and my friend’s mother would make Jerk chicken. It was spicy, savory and succulent and it would fall off the bone. One day while making this dish, she told me and my friend the story of Marcus Garvey, who was a political activist, publisher, journalist, entrepreneur, and orator and founded the Universal Negro Improvement and Conservation Association and African Communities League.” – Frank

Myron Brown Sr. : Fried Chicken
“This special recipe for fried chicken makes me think about
my mother who makes the best fried chicken I ever ate! I love you mom.” – Myron

Caleb Jefferson: Oven Roasted Turkey Legs
“This specialty dish reminds me of my hometown growing up in Alabama with a lot of siblings around the table. While creating this dish, I also remember the Tuskegee Airmen who were from my area and were the first black military aviators in the US Army Air Corp. They were primarily African American military pilots who fought in WWII. This is a salute to them.” – Caleb

Chris Lockett: Buttermilk Fried Chicken
“This homemade dish was inspired by my beloved mother who originally
made this chicken dish for me. It reminds me of my mother who has passed
away and she would be so happy to know that I’m creating her special family recipe at Hard Rock Atlantic City. Love you mom.” – Chris

Saquionna Green: Corn Bread
“This corn bread recipe reminds me of spending quality time with Grandma who passed away. She lived in Atlantic City and her home was across from
a soldiers’ home which was built in 1924 and it was used as a hospital. The
homes in her neighborhood were built to honor the Atlantic City Black
Veterans during World War II.” – Saquionna

Sylvester Wilkins: Fried Cabbage
“When I was younger, I remember my mom in the kitchen, preparing dinner and her one dish included boiling the cabbage. I honestly never liked boiled cabbage, so to this day I always deep fry it. I like it with a little crunch and it is very tasty. I hope you enjoy it, too!” – Sylvester

Chef Quincy Logan: Roast of Beef with Roasted Pan Drippings
“Growing up, my mother would roast an eye round for dinner and serve it with the classical sides including green beans, mashed potatoes, corn, peas, fresh rolls and a side of gravy. I remember coming home from school excited because that was one of the many tasty dinners she would provide for our family. I remember the smell of the roast beef permeating thru the front door as well as our house. Just thinking back to it makes my
mouth water. I would cut the end just to sneak a taste, but not too much where she could see that I cut it. She would always use her favorite cutting board to slice the beef and when it was time I would scrape up all that goodness (fat drippings). If we didn’t eat all of it in the same day, she would make hot roast beef sandwiches the next day. She would buy the rolls from Del Buono’s bakery in Haddon Heights, NJ where you could literally pull the rolls right off the conveyer belt. She would heat the gravy, slice the beef
as thin as possible, dip the beef in the jus and stuff it in the rolls! Heaven, lol! Where would we be without our Moms?!” – Chef Quincy

Cerline Harrison: Jamaican Curry Chicken
“When I was younger, every Sunday my mother would make my favorite dish. It was curry chicken, coconut rice, oxtail, and we would enjoy it with an ice cold paw-paw drink. It was so delicious and whenever I think back on the memories of these dishes it reminds me of my mother and my beautiful Jamaica homeland.” – Cerline

Joseph Landy: Meatloaf Smothered -n- Onions & Gravy
“This delicious dish reminds me of my hometown in Portsmouth, Virginia.
On Sundays, we would have this for dinner – I have 13 brothers and sisters in my family. My mother would be in the kitchen preparing the meatloaf and I along with my brothers and sisters would sit around snapping fresh green beans to help mom out. So every Sunday was like Thanksgiving at our house. Love You Ma!!!” – Joseph

Brandon Harewood: Chicken & Andouille Sausage Gumbo
“This is my favorite meal because my dad introduced it to me when I was
about 13 or 14 years old. To this day, it is still one of my favorite dishes and it will always remind me of my father. Enjoy!” – Brandon

Elwood Leftridge: Four-Cheese Mac & Cheese
“This dish reminds me of my Grandfather and Grandmother who I used to
visit in Richmond, Virginia. My grandparents would be in the kitchen making this dish together and I loved seeing them cooking in the kitchen together! I felt I really was doing something great when they would let me add the cheese – and it had to be four different varieties of cheese. They both passed away but this mac & cheese reminds me of them all the time..” – Elwood

Kenny Jackson: Corned Beef & Cabbage
“This meal was considered a poor man’s meal that our Grandmother would
make us. She would explain how these meals would be under $10.00 and
could feed an entire family in our neighborhood. We appreciated all that
Grandmom taught us about so many things, including our meals.” – Kenny

Aljah Reaves: Smothered Pork Chops with Onions and Gravy
“My grandmother Margret Byrd used to cook in the soup kitchen in Mercer
County. She proudly made meals to feed the homeless and she would bring
me and my siblings with her. She would bring us along and that’s how I
began to love this creating this dish as I grew my passion for cooking. Today, because of my Grandmother, I learned to appreciate people who are going through misfortunes in life – it makes you very humble.” – Aljah

Deon Garland: Tuna Mac Salad & Potato Salad
“I was born and raised in Atlantic City, and I have a very large family who
still live here. I grew up with lots of brothers and sisters, dozens of nieces
and nephews that all still reside here. We are all very close and it began at
my mother’s house where all were welcomed. This dish reminds me of my
mother and how the many family members and friends would come over to
enjoy it. My cooking passion is rooted right here in Atlantic City.” – Deon

Charles Chuck Baker: Braised Pig Feet aka Trotters
“When I was young, this dish was the staple on the table as I was growing up. My Grandmother was from West Virginia and it was one of her favorites, so if we didn’t have it on the table, I remembered getting upset. So, please enjoy them – I’ve included my signature homemade BBQ sauce” – Chuck

Jon Penn: Oxtail Soup
“This recipe originated from Africa in the 1700s. The oxtails were harvested
after the ox was slaughtered, however blacks had no means of sharing the
recipe until the mass production of cookbooks in the 1930s. So to pass this
recipe on to family members or neighbors, recipes were written on small
pieces of paper and put into creases of houses so it could be shared. I love
ox tails and the story behind it.” – Jon

Lesli Daniel: Jamaican Beef Patties
“Although I was born in Georgia, my family is from Saint Kitts and Nevis. Saint Kitts is the largest of the two islands in the Caribbean and in the late 17th century African slaves were brought here along with being sent to other Caribbean Islands. Today as I look back, I remember having so much fun making Jamaican-style beef patties with my Mother. We used to make differently shaped patties and have fun in the kitchen – this was our quality time together that I will never forget. I always think of my Mom and cooking together while making these beef patties. Enjoy.” – Lesli

Mike Haines: Mac & Cheese
“When it comes to black history/soul food, Mac & Cheese is definitely
considered to be a staple. I am very proud because this is a recipe that
I created. The proudest moment was when my daughter came to me and
said, ‘Daddy, I need to learn how to make macaroni & cheese.’ It’s beautiful
when we can pass our culture down to our children through the kitchen.
So please enjoy!” – Mike

Mike Knights: Manchupa (Cape Verdean Stew)
“This soup is the national dish of Cape Verde, a group of ten islands off the
coast of Senegal, Africa with a mixed population primarily of African and
European descent. Pictured above are some of my Cape Verdean relatives,
my great uncle and my great grandfather. This dish is a tribute to my heritage and an attempt to learn more about it through its cuisine.” – Mike

Lakisha Gordy: Hoppin’ Johns
“Me and my family are from Atlantic City. My Grandmother made the best
black-eyed peas, rice and cornbread. My Grandmother would cook this every year for our family for New Year’s! Oh, how much I miss my Grandmother’s cooking. I wish I could have her meals again, it doesn’t matter what it is. I miss my Grandmother a lot since she passed away. The black-eyed peas made today will most certainly remind me of my Grandmother. Thanks!” – Lakisha