Aside from their expressions of love for Keke Palmer, the main thing celebs on last week's Met Gala carpet couldn't stop talking about was the food — almost always ending their interviews with "I can't wait to eat."

Son of a Southern Chef, aka Lazarus Lynch, was one of 10 New York-based chefs bringing a strong offering to the (many, many) tables. The curated sustainable plant-based menu focused on uplifting emerging chefs and their unique styles after a difficult few years within the industry.

Lynch, along with his creative team, took to Dream Midtown to prep for his Met Gala red carpet debut, choosing designer Christopher Quarterman from Lexington, Kentucky to dress him. Since the theme of the 2021 Met Gala was "American Independence," Quarterman planned Lynch's outfit as a snapshot of the evolution of American fashion from the perspective of Black culture. Take a look at Lynch's event prep in these photos by Evan Lee, below, and hear more from the chef about his first Met Gala menu experience.

Who did you wear for the Met Gala? What inspired your outfit choice?

I chose Christopher Quarterman – a designer hailing from Lexington, Kentucky to design my look for the Met Gala. He is someone whose work I respect. He has a vision. He's going places and the world needs to watch out for Christopher Quarterman. Everyone's going to be saying his name.

It wasn't a hard decision because he's not just designing beautiful things. He's doing it very consciously. He's doing it with sustainability in mind. He is an inclusive designer. He does not believe in the gender norms, which I love. So his design for me is very gender-fluid and I agree with that perspective. It wasn't a hard decision to support Christopher.

I'm also excited to wear my friend Brandon Blackwood on the red carpet. He's a dear friend of mine. I've known him before I wrote my cookbook and I'm excited that he's going to also be featured as part of what I'm wearing.

What, if anything, do you think the Met Gala going plant-based indicates about the future of fine food?

Well, I specifically curated a dish for the menu that was not only plant-based and vegan but also inspired by my Southern roots. In fact, a lot of Southern soul food can be easily made vegan because a lot of the ingredients are based on things that grow. Fruit like okra and tomatoes, rice... these kinds of heirlooms, vegetables and aromatics are commonly used throughout the South. Fine food can be diverse depending on how you define it. There are some people who wouldn't consider Southern soul food as fine food, but I just curated a Southern soul food dish for the Met Gala.

What went into planning the Met Gala menu? How long was the lead up and how long did it take for day-of prep?

Marcus Samuelsson, one of my mentors and a dear friend invited me to be part of this along with 9 other great chefs. I'm so honored that he asked me to be part of it. I will say, it didn't feel real until I got the official email from Anna Wintour! The process started back in June and I was asked to submit several options of items for the menu. Each item went through multiple rounds of tastings in which adjustments were made to ensure that each dish represented the true essence of the gala. Thankfully, there was a team that prepared every dish based on the recipes and rounds of tastings so my day-of prep consisted of getting ready for the event.

Who were you most excited to have try your food?

I honestly can't think of one person. I'm excited for everyone to try my food! I will say, in terms of other chefs, Sophia Roe is someone who I have adored for so long over Instagram and I'm excited to finally meet her. I respect what all the chefs do and I think we all are bringing something unique, original, and beautiful to the menu.

What were some of the menu highlights?

I brought Collard Green Hot Chow and Coconut Buttermilk Cornbread to the table because in Black culture it represents wealth. We eat it for the New Year's to represent a lot of green in your life; a lot of money. Because we're black luxury, honey, we had to bring the collard greens to the table. And, of course, the cornbread, which is something that I just love eating.

What's one thing that happens behind-the-scenes at the Met Gala that you weren't expecting?

The logistics! I definitely felt safe attending with all the COVID protocols, but there were many.

Photography: Evan Lee
Creative direction and designer: Christopher Quarterman
Assistant styling: Keeon Mullins
Hair: Sabina Clarke
Barber: Drew Parker
Markeup: Miracle Lynch
Nails: Carolyn Son
Tailor: Tia Usher
Visual design: Lili'uolani Pickford

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