For those with a taste of mouth-watering barbecue, look no further, Crave BBQ, a new blues house concept featuring live music opened in Richmond at The Shops at Hilltop in the 5,000-square-foot Suite D107. Owner Chef Rashad Armstead is living out his culinary dream in more ways than one.
Armstead recently hosted an after party at the rooftop terrace of the Port Co-Working Space in Oakland offering a food extravaganza at the downtown venue overlooking Lake Merritt.
Hundreds lined up at the upscale event with live music by West Oakland Blues Band. Guests experienced mini brisket biscuit sandwiches, fried fish, blue cornbread, macaroni and cheese, fried crab, potato salad and peach cobbler.
The event celebrated Rashad as the winner of the Food Network’s show, Chopped.
Attendees had the opportunity to hear the winning announcement first hand and celebrate with Chef Rashad, his family, friends and fans.
Dressed in a bright turquoise suit and red bandana, Rashad thanked the crowd for attending as a video screen looped Rashad on the show Chopped.
“In February, I applied to be on the show and by May we were taping,” he said. “This could not have happened at a better time, because I was considering throwing in the towel on my dream. My message to everyone is, don’t ever give up, go after your dreams.”
Rashad shared the story of his learning the art of cooking from his great grandmother, grandmother, and mother. “My great grandmother (Sarah Rawls) had a legacy in Oakland,” he said. “She owned several restaurants in Oakland, wrote cookbooks and had a TV show and was beginning to expand in Los Angeles.” Rashad said complications along the way prevented his grandmother’s national expansion.
“Through her recipes, my great grandmother’s legacy lives on,” he said. Armstead recognizes that soul food may not be the healthiest but he says it is a part of a cultural legacy none-the-less. “Many people are moving away from soul food and consider it unhealthy, however, these recipes represent our rich heritage and are a part of our history,” he said.
Oakland locals Lynette Jones Lipscomb attended with friend Deloris Whitehead-Joseph. “The food is delicious, I like the fried crab,” Lipscomb said. “I enjoyed everything especially the peach cobbler,” said Whitehead-Joseph. “The crust was perfect and the mac-and-cheese was oh, so creamy,” said Whitehead. Radio producer Terry Adams also enjoyed the event. “I’m so happy to celebrate Chef Rashad’s success and enjoy this great food.”
Rashad also owns Grammie’s Down Home Chicken and Seafood takeout at 3817 Market St. in Oakland.
“I want to expand and continue to hire people in the community and create jobs,” said Armstead. “I want to franchise my company as well. I want to show people that you can live your dream and I want to see others do the same.”
Crave BBQ is located at 1207 Hilltop Mall Road and is open Tuesday through Sunday from 12 noon to 7:00 p.m.