By Lenore T. Adkins, Special to the AFRO
For Warren Brown, serving up his small bites at the inaugural Taste of Tennis charity event on July 30 at The Hamilton was a no brainer.
Brown, a Petworth resident, owns CakeLove, a business he launched 16 years ago that bakes packaged goods and snacks out of Alexandria, Virginia.
“My business was founded in D.C. and it’s important for me to be able to make the efforts that I can to just be in touch with the D.C. community to make sure that they know that I’m here, you know?” Brown told the AFRO. “And I like to support D.C. in lots of different ways and this is one way that we can — it’s a fun way that we can.”
He pushed two products at the event. CakeLove in a Jar, an indulgent snack of flavored cream cheese icing and cake that he sells at major retailers in 10 states and the District of Columbia. It comes in several flavors, including key lime, red velvet, coco piña and salty caramel.
Meanwhile, Spark Bites is a healthy snack a lot like granola. They’re are made from oats, black seeds, millet, rice, agave syrup smashed together and baked with a little bit of spice, a touch of salt and some “heat.”
“(It’s) not trying to be like anything, except a really damn good snack,” said Brown, author of four cookbooks.
Taste of Tennis was an evening of chef demonstrations, cocktails, glamour and socializing paired with tennis, as it coincided with the weeklong Citi Open tennis tournament, which ended Aug. 5.
It drew tennis player Naomi Osaka, 20, who did a cooking demonstration with Chef Edward Lee, culinary director of the Succotash in D.C. and Maryland. The Japan native, and third seed, would go on to lose in the second round of the tournament.
Maryland native and rising tennis star Frances Tiafoe, 20, was also in the building. While he was ousted in the third round of the Citi Open in singles, he made it to the doubles semifinals.
Like the Citi Open, the $200 per person party raised money for the Washington Tennis & Education Foundation, which helps low-income kids learn tennis and shows them how to succeed in the classroom.
“I’m always looking for creative ways to help to give back and then at the end of the day, I’m a chef at heart so I love sharing my cuisine with the world,” celebrity television chief Jernard Wells told the AFRO as he whipped up a barbecued pineapple smoked chicken bruschetta on a toasted waffle. “I’m from Atlanta and this was a creative way to be a part of the Taste of Tennis because I’m a big fan of tennis players as well.”
Wells has appeared on multiple Food Network programs, including “Chef Wanted,” “Food Network Star” and “Comeback Kitchen,” which he won twice.
The event’s organizers said it would be several months before they know how much money the sold-out event raised.