A Tribe Called Tuesday: Jarobi White Talks Tacos and Food’s Connection to Music

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Jarobi White, a member of A Tribe Called Quest and the founder of "Tribe Taco Tuesdays." Photos by Hafizah Gaeter.

With each Monday comes the cruel knowledge that your week is just beginning—again. Wednesdays signal the faint light at the end of the tunnel. Thursdays and Fridays you are almost home free. Tuesdays, however are the forgotten days, the redheaded stepchild. Lucky for us, A Tribe Called Quest’s Jarobi White and Bed-Vyne Cocktail are working to give Tuesday a reputation of its own.

Less than a month old, White’s Tribe Taco Tuesdays series is a culinary spin on a familiar staple. These are not the tacos you shove down your face on the street at 2 a.m., nor are they the quick fix from the taco truck during your lunch break. White’s specialties find their inspiration in Asian, Indian and Mediterranean cuisine, all which he incorporates into his recipes. White’s inventions include buffalo chicken tacos with blue cheese coleslaw, falafel with lamb vindaloo and grilled corn, cod with pineapple salsa, and pork belly tacos. And as you would expect from a man who helped start one of the most iconic rap groups to date, White pairs great jams with his tacos. On one recent Tuesday, DJ FeFe Girl Wonder, from the DJ collective Raspberry Chateau, spun classics and contemporary jams like a soulful woman on a Friday night. Tupac, Jay-Z? Yes please.

Why Taco Tuesdays? “I started noticing on social media that people were doing Tribe Tuesdays, so I was like, hmm, Tribe Taco Tuesday,” he said on one recent Tuesday night. “It was just logical to me. And whenever I do anything I always bring a DJ. There always has to be a musical element. So, I thought I would get the hottest DJ and make it an experience. For most people, their memories and their senses are tied to music. I don’t just want you to eat, I want you to experience. And Bed-Vyne is a black owned business that is in my neighborhood and I wanted to pay homage to old Brooklyn. Because a lot of things are getting pushed out due to the dreaded ‘G word’–gentrification.”

Tribe Taco Tuesdays are part of White’s trifecta, “Eats, Rhymes & Life,” which includes a traditional backyard BBQ series as well as restaurant takeovers. It’s a spin into the celebrity chef experience for White, who most recently was a chef at August NYC. For his restaurant takeovers, White goes into restaurants and does remixes with the ingredients they already have on hand, creating whole new concepts for the foodies in all of us. “Music and cooking has a lot of parallels,” said White. “When you do music, you are only as good as your last record, and when you cook, you are only as good as your last plate. The instant gratification when you make a good beat and people are like, yeah. Or when you cook something and they put that fork in their mouth and are like, mmm. It’s the same thing. And chefs are the new rock stars now anyway.”

White said he has always had an interest in cooking. “I didn’t watch a lot of TV growing up other than PBS,” he said. “On PBS, I watched Julia Child, Martin Yan, and Justin Wilson, all those dudes. I got an affinity for cooking. If I wasn’t on tour, I was in somebody’s kitchen. [The] first time I got my hands on some money, I went to culinary school.”

Kyle Watababe, Michael Noonan, and JLamar Wright at a recent Tribe Taco Tuesday.

Needless to say, Tribe Taco Tuesdays attract quite a crowd to Tompkins Avenue. On a single Tribe Taco Tuesday there was Michael Noonan, a Queens native who trades land rights in Colombia; Emmanuel, a native of England and a bar consultant (think the TV show Bar Rescue); and JLamar, a Brooklyn native and one of the DJS in the the Raspberry Chateau collective. “The people who run Bed-Vyn are very conscious of the flavor of the neighborhood,” said JLamar. “They bring in interesting people who are doing their own thing and who are from the neighborhood. They created something that is deeper into Brooklyn than the usual popular places, for people who actually live in the neighborhood.”

JLamar is right about the flavor–the flavor of Tribe Taco Tuesdays is in the food, the music, the drinks, and the conversation.

Taco Tuesdays at Bed-Vyne kick off deliciously early at 5 p.m. and continue late into the night; the series runs through July 21.

Eats, Rhymes, and Life

Bed-Vyne Cocktail, 305 Halsey Street; Bedford-Stuyvestant

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