It was seemingly just another Monday afternoon in Brooklyn until a growing cluster of clouds vied for a spot in the sky. Despite what seemed to be a day an imminent day of rain on the horizon, we still rode our bikes to meet up with Rawlston Williams, the owner and chef at The Food Sermon in Crown Heights.
We pulled up to the restaurant nestled on the corner of Rogers Ave. and Sullivan Pl. From the outside, the building structure is elegantly understated; a minimal black coat of paint accented by golden-yellow letters spelling it’s name. There was a sign on the door that apologetically read, “Open at 4pm. Sorry!” We were just a tad bit early but Rawlston greeted us at the door with his signature smile; the one that faithfully expresses love even in cases of fatigue. We shake hands and make our way into the restaurant while a gentleman patiently awaits for the clock to strike 4. Yeh, it’s that serious. And moments later, we quickly begin to understand allure behind the cuisine and atmosphere of The Food Sermon.
WHAT’S THE FIRST THING THAT COMES TO YOUR MIND WHEN YOU HEAR THE WORD “FOOD”?
I THINK OF INTIMACY. THE IDEA OF ME OR SOMEONE ELSE MAKING SOMETHING WITH THEIR HANDS; PEELING AND TOUCHING IT, PUTTING HEAT TO IT THEN YOU BELIEVING IN IT AND PUTTING IT IN YOUR BODY IS A BIG DEAL. A HUGE DEAL!
WE ALL HAVE OUR UNIQUE RELATIONSHIP WITH FOOD. WHERE DID THAT INTIMACY COME FROM FOR YOU?
WELL, AS A CHILD I DIDN’T LIKE FOOD BECAUSE I GREW UP VEGETARIAN AND ALL THE KIDS IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD GOT TO EAT STEW CHICKEN AND OTHERS MEATS. BUT MY AUNT, WHO RAISED ME, WAS SICK ALL THE TIME. SO, WHEN SHE WAS BEDRIDDEN AT TIMES, I BECAME HER ARMS AND LEGS AT FIVE OR SIX YEARS OLD. SHE WOULD YELL OUT INGREDIENTS TO ME FROM HER WINDOW. “GRAB A CUP OF FLOUR, SALT, COCONUT!” HERE I AM MAKING DUMPLINGS, SOUPS, RICE AND STEW PEAS. NOT FULLY UNDERSTANDING WHAT I WAS DOING BUT FOLLOWING HER DIRECTIVES NONETHELESS.
Check out our full interview with The Food Sermon here