The Lowcountry has more than its share of event companies, but Giovanni Richardson and her cousins were troubled by how few of them emphasize the area’s cultural heritage.
“We wanted to bring awareness to Gullah Geechee culture,” says Richardson, who last year founded Taste of Gullah with two of her cousins. In addition to offering private catering services steeped in local traditions, Taste of Gullah this summer is hosting a series of suppers to benefit the Seashore Farmers Lodge-Museum on Sol Legare.
“Sometimes people feel like things have been going bad so long, they give up,” Richardson says. “You can’t operate like a museum if you don’t have funding. Hopefully we can help them get back on their feet.”
Among the projects that Taste of Gullah hopes to support are the development of a row garden and the construction of a picket fence, to keep people from driving onto the museum’s front lawn.
Richardson, Tiffany Richardson and Jasmine Stovall are relatively new to the event industry, but their family’s local presence dates back 300 years. “We have a history of family entrepreneurship,” Richardson says. Her grandfather is Thomas Backman, of the island’s historic Backman’s Seafood; the company hopes to eventually stage a ticketed event there.
The first event on Taste of Gullah’s summer schedule is a Gullah Braai on June 13. The “Southern Barbecue Garden Party” at the museum will feature four cooking stations manned by chefs hailing from throughout the Gullah-Geechee region, which Richardson defines as stretching from North Carolina to the Caribbean.
“Sometimes we forget that ships didn’t come straight to Charleston from Africa,” she says. “We dropped off cousins along the way.”
Initial plans to serve wild game at the braai were scrapped for legal reasons, but the chefs will prepare pork, beef, poultry and seafood; the menu for the 4 p.m.-8 p.m. party also includes side dishes and drinks. Richardson is recruiting dancers and storytellers to round out the program. Tickets are $10 in advance, or $15 at the door.
On July 16, Taste of Gullah will host a crab crack; dates for future ticketed events, including a wine tasting, should be available soon. To learn more, visit facebook.com/ataste.ofgullah.