Interview with Stay Hungry Founder Syreeta Gates

October 16, 2017

Read our interview with Stay Hungry’s founder, Syreeta Gates. Stay Hungry is The Laundromat Project’s featured culinary experience at our Eighth Annual Public Art Potluck (and don’t forget to buy your tickets or support).



STAY HUNGRY is a culinary experience that bridges Hip-Hop with food and beverage. We partner young people, specifically in high school, with chefs, coaches, and they make food inspired by Hip-Hop lyrics for a team of judges. We also do competitions with adults, dinners, catering events, and we have a podcast called #EverybodyEats.


In three words, describe STAY HUNGRY’s cuisine/style:

Diverse. Fun. Preserving the culture.

Founder Syreeta Gates giving awards to recipients for the "You Got The Juice" Awards (Awarding people of color doing brilliant work in the culinary industry) during #StayHungry2017 in Brooklyn NY Photography by Sho Shots

Founder Syreeta Gates giving awards to recipients for the “You Got The Juice” Awards (Awarding people of color doing brilliant work in the culinary industry) during #StayHungry2017 in Brooklyn NY
Photography by Sho Shots


How has STAY HUNGRY been intentional around some level of social responsibility?

We realized that a lot of young people we work with haven’t cooked before…the only thing they might have cooked is cereal. We are intentional with how we use Hip-hop lyrics to promote not only healthy eating but reimagining what young people and adults, specifically people of color are making in the kitchens. Many who we work with come from urban neighborhoods, cities, and/or live in food deserts. I lived in Southside Jamaica Queens and in my 5-block radius, there are 95,000 corner stores, Chinese food restaurants, KFC, McDonalds, Checkers, etc… They’re aren’t healthy options. So at STAY HUNGRY , we think about how we can be intentional about using Hip-hop lyrics to support POC in making healthy food options, while also being intentional about working with people in the culinary industry who are POC.


How have you been able to partner with chefs/people in the culinary industry?

Our network of chefs has come from word-of-mouth and from sharing the work we’re doing through the culinary competitions. But specifically with partnering with people of color, we want to be intentional not only about how we move in the world, but we know that there is people color in the culinary industry doing amazing things. So partnering with Elle Johnson, Airis Johnson, Nate Wyatte, Ken Williams, other amazing chefs and people in the culinary industry whether they be chefs or food stylists or food or culinary executives of tv shows. We definitely want to spread light and create awareness that YES there are people that look like us in the field of culinary arts, which doesn’t seem like the case very often.

High school students preparing to make their dish with coach chef at #StayHungry2017 in Brooklyn NY  Photography by Sho Shots

High school students preparing to make their dish with coach chef at #StayHungry2017 in Brooklyn NY
Photography by Sho Shots


What is STAY HUNGRY’s favorite film, book, song, lyric, etc. about NYC?

“T bone steak, cheese, eggs, and Welch’s grapes” lyrics from Biggie Smalls. When we tell people what we do, we use these lyric because it is most identifiable with people on the east coast. This past year (2017), we did a culinary competition on Biggie Day which is May 21 and we used biggie lyrics as a source of inspiration to cook our food.


Can you tell us about STAY HUNGRY’s annual #BiggieDay culinary competition?

Our annual culinary competitions are on May 21, which is Biggie Smalls birthday. We chose Biggie because being New Yorkers, we wanted to be intentional about his legacy. Depending on what city we go to, we choose the artist accordingly.


Chef Lex Grant's team wins First Place at #StayHungry2017  Photography by Sho Shots

Chef Lex Grant’s team wins First Place at #StayHungry2017
Photography by Sho Shots

Throughout the years of doing this culinary competition and our catering gigs, we have used a variety of lyrics not only from New Yorkers, but DC, Philly, LA… a wide range of food and beverage lyrics.


Syreeta, you recently launched the #EverybodyEats Podcast. Can you share more about how this podcast bridges hip-hop with food, beverage, and the hustle and  highlights the importance of teamwork?

In the movie “Paid in Full,” produced by Dame Dash and Roc-a-fella’ Films, one guy in the film named Ace who is from Harlem (his real name AZ) has a part in the film where he says “everybody eats, B.” So just thinking about what we do at STAY HUNGRY, “everybody eats” is a phrase that many people use, and we have adopted it to have our podcast to talk about Hip-hop, food, beverage, the hustle, and specifically teamwork.


Teamwork is very important to the work we do, and far too often, especially in the entertainment industry, we only think of the main person, but we do not think about their team. For example, Jay Z, who is amazing and brilliant, has a whole team and if it wasn’t for them, Jay Z might be moving in the world very differently. The reason we’re stressing teamwork inside of this conversation is that it’s a conversation that is rarely had in hip-hop because we often only look at the main person.


How we’re looking at the hustle is whatever a person’s passion is, whatever kind of work their contributions to the world, and for us it’s definitely looking at food and beverage and hip-hop industries in regards to what we do at STAY HUNGRY. The #Everybody Eats podcast is similar to what The Laundromat Project does with working with a variety of artists, in a variety of mediums, and coming together whether it’s putting on particular events, benefit dinners, and raising funds for support.

Shrimp scampi dish inspired by  Jonathan Mannion and Jay-Z "Reasonable Doubt" album.

Shrimp scampi dish inspired by Jonathan Mannion and Jay-Z “Reasonable Doubt” album.


What’s your neighborhood in NYC, and what do you love most about it?

I am from Southside Jamaica Queens, so STAY HUNGRY was born in Southside Jamaica Queens where we had our first competition.


One thing I love from being Jamaica is we, outside from a woman named Sylvia Robinson who signed the Sugar Hill Gang and they had their first record. There have been prominent people coming from Jamaica Queens in regards to hip-hop who has changed the game. So Russell Simmons, RUN DMC, Ja Rule, 50 Cent, Nas. It’s amazing to be able to create content for why Queens is important and relevant doing this particular work. And in terms of making an impact of Hip-hop culture, Queens has been on the map.


How do you relate food and the culinary arts to the idea of sanctuary?

From the beginning of time, people of color have used food as a way to break bread. Nothing has changed around that. Anytime you bring people to a table at an event and you have food, and you’re very intentional about creating space THAT can equal a level of creative sanctuary. What I think is interesting about the term sanctuary is using it enough so that it becomes part of people’s vernacular so that when they are in those spaces, they can “oh yeah, this is a space of sanctuary.”


Whether it’s being your family at home or having a brilliant artist like Walter Cruz (2017 Kelly Street Artist-in-Residence and 2016 Create Change Fellow), who is how I found out about the Laundromat Project and is making these phenomenal jackets, that is like a walking sanctuary. He made a jacket for me that said “Create What’s Missing” and I literally feel at home when I am in that jacket. Yes utilizing food but utilizing space as a way to create sanctuary.


What excites you the most about working with The LP for our annual Public Art Potluck? And how are you connected to The LP?

I have a philosophy in the world, teamwork makes the dream work. “Team Us” is a very real thing for me. So it’s a lot about how can we partner with people in industries and organizations that add up and make a difference. I’ve been familiar with The Laundromat Project for quite a few years. My friend Dexter Wimberly who is a curator and a member of the board connected me to Walter Cruz. So anytime friends reach out to connect me in sense of what I’m about, through those who know me and know what the intention is for STAY HUNGRY and the Everybody Eats Podcast, I’m like “Let’s do it! Let’s make it happen!”


On October 18th I am looking to EVERYTHING! Literally, all of the things.


Buy your tickets to our 2017 Public Art Potluck!


STAY HUNGRY is a culinary experience, that fuses a connection between food, beverage, and hip-hop. The guiding values of STAY HUNGRY are #TEAMUS, Everybody Eats, Gratitude, Innovation, Putting on #FortheCulture, and FUN.

To learn more about STAY HUNGRY, find them on social media:


#YoStayHungry #EverybodyEatsPodcast


Alejandra Nasser and Emilio Poppe in Creative Conversation

October 12, 2017

2017 Create Change Fellows Alejandra Nasser and Emilio Poppe embarked on their creative conversation much like a burgeoning friendship. In a moment of great wonder, joy, and change they wanted to first celebrate their unique and precious union through traditional commemorations such as a wedding or a “lit fuckin party”…. keeping all of their ideas for future endeavors to collaborate together safe and sound.


At the heart of their conversation was the idea not just of exchange but of sharing. To practice this, they gathered different images, readings, and links they felt compelled to share with you other over the course of a week. They then came together and talked over these selections (items, offerings) in person. In this collection shared below, they found memories, current anxieties and feelings of grief, healing practices, and loving gifts:


“Mama, please don’t scream ’cause I don’t want you to get shooted.” This footage shows the aftermath of Philando Castile’s fatal shooting by police.

  • what can we do now when we’ve done everything right?
  • What care will this child receive for their trauma?
  • Will they be put in foster care?


KING: Everything about the Seattle Police shooting of Charleena Lyles, pregnant mother of four, is wrong

  • what is going to happen to her kids?
  • what care will these children receive for their trauma?
  • will they be put in foster care?


what do reparations look like?


Intergroup Dialogue in Higher Education: Definition, Origins, and Practices (2007), Ximena Zuniga, Biren (Ratnesh) A. Nagda, Mark Chesler, Adena Cytron-Walker   Vigil Being Held For Slain Muslim Teen In Dupont Circle Today

  • ‘incident of road rage’
  • 57% increase in anti Muslim bias incidents


we have hatred in us as brown people. a genocide. a conditioning. a forced sterilization of our own and like a parasite attacked and nestled into our DNA is the oppressor.


Madness & Oppression: Paths to Personal

Transformation & Collective Liberation.

A Mad Maps Guide by The Icarus Project


Lamentation (1970), Martha Graham


what can we do now when we’ve

done everything right


6 After-Death Rituals From Latin America & the Caribbean


“i like the feeling of words doing as they want to do and as they have to do”

—Gertrude Stein


Artsyandblack Being conscious of
who you are and what you need as

Being conscious of who you are and what you need as a person is powerful @Princessnokia.

A post shared by Azia (@artsyandblack) on

ae black school

THE BLACK SCHOOL – Joseph A. Cuillier III



Tatiannatarot #Tarot #Meditation //


10 of Pentacles

The 10 of Pentacles is symbolic of long term success, achieving wealth on all terms. Pictured is a happy family rejoicing under an arch with an ancestor in the distance with symbols of abundance & luscious comfort. This is a positive sign that regardless of countless energy invested in overcoming challenges, working diligently & being persistent, a final point of completion will be reached in which you can enjoy your efforts & the reward it brings. There will be peace, comfort and prosperity in your life at the end of the road, all is not lost. The importance of family & community is highlighted in the illustration as a vital support system or perhaps motivational source. This can point to peace within your own, or working in tandem with close minded individuals & friends that have everyone’s best interest in mind. It’s a time of celebration, to bask in appreciation & the abundance that you already have. Wealth does not only represent financial prosperity but the ability to generate money through brilliant ideas, having a generous heart & feeling grateful. Focus on the present moment and how it lends to the results you want in the long run. Eliminate factors distracting you from this outcome. Consider how your actions influence you and those around you & work on establishing more peace in your life. This can be a prosperous time in your life; wake up counting your blessings if you doubt that. For those experiencing turbulence in their lives, the 10 of Pentacles can point to better days and deep healing transpiring in all aspects of your life. You can experience an increase in wealth, thriving love or a beautiful reconciliation & vital health. Spiritually, you may finally understand one of the Hermetic laws: “As Within, So Without; As Above, So Below.” What happens on any level of reality, happens on all levels. Get your inner state right so you can begin to cherish what’s around you externally.


 Sasha Velour | NIGHTGOWNS 1 | “Love Song For A Vampire”


 Paris Is Burning (1991), Jennie Livingston and the House and Ballroom Scenes of New York City

Amazon Mother Leiomy for Nike #betrue collection

Small Axe by Bob Marley

Being Lazy and Slowing Down (2014), Riyad A. Shajahan







stephanie elizabeth cc

Elizabeth Rossi and Stephanie Alvarado in Creative Conversation

October 12, 2017

2017 Create Change Fellows Elizabeth Rossi and Stephanie Alvarado have creative conversations through journaling. They began with choosing a journal and writing an entry, followed by a prompt. Both artists exchanged their journals for six weeks building on their creative conversation.


Questions included: What does a decolonized love look like? How has your love changed in the past 10 years? Tell me about a time you were a transformer? What are your rituals for healing?


Elizabeth Rossi and Stephanie Alvarado:

We are not only friends, but also respect each other’s art and minds. With this our writings were not only deeply personal but a reflection of how interwoven our values are to our everyday lives. What struck me about our writing was the focus on love. It was not a romantic flowery version of love, but rather real conversation as people who do political work engage in the topic of love politically and in our personal relationships.


An excerpt:
“I’ve tried. Put so much effort and not feeling anything but my beliefs and my values tug at my heart and my mind and my body to remind me of who I am. I am a warrior. I am a fighter. Agitator. I have to say what no one wants to hear or is afraid to say. It’s my nature. My love for freedom for our people. My love for our people and those that aren’t even born yet. It’s like I feel my ancestors watching me and proving to me that I’m on track with my purpose. My North Star is one that leads me to seek the truth of all the things that oppress us so then find a way to resist and dance in the face of it all.”


For us, the work in not about the jobs we are paid for, though we do try to incorporate it. It is in our love for our people. Our belief that our ancestors will lift us and guide us. It is in the friendships that hold and push us forward to laugh and work in the revolution with.