People of color underrepresented in hospitality industry leadership, San Antonio restaurateur says

Tavel Bristol-Joseph — who oversees operations of Pearl restaurant Ladino — joined three other esteemed Black chefs for a SXSW panel.

click to enlarge Emmer & Rye Hospitality Group chef and Director of Hospitality Tavel Bristol-Joseph sits second from left on a 2023 SXSW panel. - Nina Rangel
Nina Rangel
Emmer & Rye Hospitality Group chef and Director of Hospitality Tavel Bristol-Joseph sits second from left on a 2023 SXSW panel.
People of color are still underrepresented in hospitality industry leadership roles, San Antonio restaurant operator Tavel Bristol-Joseph said over the weekend during a SXSW panel discussion.

As chef and director of hospitality for Emmer & Rye Hospitality Group, Bristol-Joseph oversees operations of newish Pearl eatery Ladino. He joined three other Black chefs for a Sunday, March 12 panel called “Futuring Food Systems: A Seat at the Chef's Table.”

Adrian Lipscombe, founder of Black food legacy nonprofit the 40 Acres Project, led the chefs in sharing their experiences coming up in the industry. Bristol-Joseph — an immigrant from the Caribbean nation of Guyana — said his feelings as an outsider helped push him to to succeed.

"My experience was a little bit different in the sense that, you know, coming from the Caribbean and having a strong accent, even though you're the same color as everyone in the room, you're also different ... Coming from the Caribbean, anyone that's American, in your mind, they're better than you, or they're on a different level that you're at,” he said. “So just the fact that the people around me were American, I was just happy to be in their presence … you try to be the best that you can be within that space.”

Bristol-Joseph also said chefs can play a significant role in reducing food waste. Each year, 119 billion pounds of food is wasted in America — nearly 40% of all food in the contiguous United States — according to Feeding America, a national network of food banks, pantries and meal programs.

“To do my part, I practice being conscious of the ingredients I purchase at the grocery store, and asking the right questions of the farmers and purveyors that I work with,” Bristol-Joseph told the audience. “Those are those small steps that we can do, as a community to help within the bigger picture of the ecosystem. And, obviously, supporting restaurants or people that are doing that good work. I think being more conscious in our day to day is what is going to help each and every one of us in this room.”

The 37th annual SXSW conference, which offers panels, events and seminars around tech, film, music, food and education, is currently underway in Austin. Bristol-Joseph was the sole San Antonio-tied presenter in panels discussing food-related topics.

Dallas chef and Top Chef alum Tiffany Derry and chef Gerald Sombright joined Bristol-Jospeh on the panel. In 2022, Sombright’s Orlando eatery Knife & Spoon earned a Michelin Star, making him the first Black man in America to earn the world's most-coveted culinary accolade.

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Nina Rangel

Nina Rangel uses nearly 20 years of experience in the foodservice industry to tell the stories of movers and shakers in the food scene in San Antonio. As the Food + Nightlife Editor for the San Antonio Current, she showcases her passion for the Alamo City’s culinary community by promoting local flavors, uncovering...

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