“Black” is a new chef collaborative hitting Philadelphia, which features what are called pop-up dinners. It’s the brainchild of Philadelphia native Khoran Horn. The pop-ups are events specifically tailored to people that Horn – who is classically trained and the owner of Old City’s Stripp’d Juice – and his associates have researched. They dinners are scheduled and carefully planned with a purpose, Horn told BillyPen.com. “At supper clubs…people eat, they show up, they disappear, and that’s really it. What we’re doing has more intent, more purpose.” Before each meal they serve, Horn and co-conspirators Gerald Allen (a chef from Delaware) and James Smith (a bartender at Vernick) will sift through guests’ Instagram accounts to flush out musical tastes — and then tailor the event with a soundtrack to match. Or they’ll pick up on other features that allow them to personalize the dining experience.
“If we get nine dog lovers coming, for example, we’re definitely doing free dog treats at the end,” Horn said. That attention to personal detail is one thing that sets Black apart. Another is the branding, which is strikingly minimalist, with monochrome imagery, a flipped central “A” in bold text and lots of white space. It’s almost reminiscent of Apple’s style — no coincidence, since Horn worked retail for the tech giant for nearly a decade after getting burnt out after culinary school. Horn first translated the marketing lessons he learned at Apple into his cold-pressed juice and acai bowl shop, which is thriving on North Third Street. To exercise his creative talents, he hosted a pop-up Kanye West-themed dinner there in 2016, and it sold out immediately.
A second Outkast-themed event was similarly popular. Recognizing there was a desire for this kind of event, Horn put his mind to making it a more regular thing, and launched Black some 18 months later. “Judges wear black, it can be an elegant thing, black tie affairs,” Horn said, explaining how he chose the collaborative’s name. “We want our dinners to encompass everything that is the color.” And of course, part of what informs the company name is the makeup of its team: all three men are African American. “I think there is a slight pulse that is changing right now where it comes to black people in the culinary industry,” Horn told Billy Penn. The acceptance of black fine dining is increasing, Horn said, but “it’s only gonna really change when people start to die off.” It’s not just white people who pigeonhole Black cooking as just soul food or Southern classics, he observed. “Like, my mom and dad are likely not coming to these dinners.”