MINNEAPOLIS — Over the years, "Chopped and Served Catering" has worked within many kitchens. While attending the University of Minnesota, the company's founder and executive chef, Imani Jackson, utilized the kitchen at Minnesota Hillel, a center for Jewish students.
Now, for the first time, she has her own brick-and-mortar shop.
"Oh I'm pumped, baby," the 26-year-old CEO said. "I'm ready."
Once renovations are complete, Jackson says they will offer cooking workshops in one room and healthy to-go meals for purchase in another. Jackson describes her cuisine as "Blewish" because she's Jewish and Black.
"Instead of having sit-down seating like there was before, we're just going to have grab-and-go, take-and-bake food, kind of like Papa Murphy's style," Jackson said.
The building used to be Funky Grits restaurant before it became Dragon Wok. Just months after Dragon Wok moved in, George Floyd was murdered across the street. Between the unrest that followed and the indoor dining restrictions, the business didn't last.
Since Dragon Wok left, bullets have hit the building. Still, Jackson chooses to be there.
"As a Jew, our memorials around the world for the Holocaust don't look like this," she said of George Floyd Square. "You'll just walk through a random park and there will be, like, beautiful stones … Why don't we get that as Black folk, you know?
"So that's kind of the message, I want to be able to help portray and push the narrative of, like, 'We are so powerful. We can have more than just this.' Good energy, positive light, smiles, humanizing the dehumanized, which is this entire corner. Knowing people's name. Saying, 'Hello, who are you? What's your name? My name's Imani.' Dancing around, bringing that unity into the community and just getting to actually know people around us … Chopped and Served has a powerful energy where we can do that."
Chopped and Served frequently provides free food to inner-city kids. The company plans to extend that offer to the whole community at its grand opening party on Monday, Oct. 3. The business will open Oct. 1.
Watch more local news:
Watch the latest local news from the Twin Cities in our YouTube playlist: