Recipe of Love: A Community Portrait

A dramaturgical exhibit in conjunction with the regional premiere of The Hot Wing King.

Curated by Margarita Kompelmakher and Keshawn Mellon 
Photography by Aniska Tonge 


As the saucepan is stirred to get the perfect flavor, so too are the lives of members of the fry crew ‘The New Wing Order’ in The Hot Wing King. Recipe of Love is a community portrait project that draws inspiration from The Hot Wing King to spotlight five Black and queer-owned restaurants, food trucks and food platforms in Atlanta, Georgia. The participants in this exhibit describe food as a language of love and as a binding agent for the Black and queer community. Each profile explores the way kitchens catalyze intimate, familial, and communal relationships that can reclaim history and self-worth to move our communities toward a more satiated feeling of belonging.  

Available digitally and on display in the North Alcove Lobby in Memorial Arts Building during the run of The Hot Wing King, FEB 10 – MAR 5, 2023. 



Community Partners






Chef Branden and Chef Jada 

Co-Owners of WhatCha Cookin Baby  

In 2019, brother-and-sister team Branden and Jada started their food truck WhatCha Cookin Baby at a pivotal time in their life. In this portrait, Chef Branden talks about his struggle to make it outside of his community in New Orleans and how he eventually discovered his worth and joy in providing comforting meals to others. Chef Jada talks about her move to Atlanta and the sustenance the city has afforded her personally, as a trans woman, and professionally, as a small-business owner.

Meet Branden and Jada



David Wilmott and Darnell Morgan

Co-Owners of Forks & Flavors Restaurant 

David and Darnell compliment each other in and out of the restaurant they own and run in Kennesaw, GA. David, a professional chef, runs the kitchen, and Darnell, a former military nurse turned restaurateur, manages the bar. In this portrait, the pair describe how they navigated “too many cooks in a kitchen” issues to make it as a business, and as a couple, that works toward a joint passion for creating a space of celebration for the community. 

Meet David and Darnell



Deborah VanTrece 

Owner of Twisted Soul Cookhouse & Pours
CEO of VanTrece Hospitality Group 

Over the past two decades, Deborah has built a food empire in Atlanta, GA. In this portrait, the veteran chef shares her journey to, and through, the profession – from her experiences as a flight attendant and the influence it had on her brand of global soul food to the mentorship opportunities she hopes to create for the next generation of chefs.

Meet Deborah



Juan and Gregory ‘Gee’ Smalls 

Co-Owners of Virgil’s Gullah Kitchen and Bar 

The dishes at Juan and Gee’s restaurant in College Park and West Midtown are located at the intersection of personal family history and American culinary history rooted in Gullah Geechee culture. In this portrait, the couple shares their love story and describes how their restaurant translates experiences of home and community into recipes, one plate at a time. 

Meet Juan and Gee



Kaye Dinero  

Owner of I Love Food ATL  

A lifelong foodie, Kaye shares her evolution from eater to food influencer when she realized her Instagram photos could help satiate hungry Atlantans. In this portrait, Kaye talks about the vital role her platform played to sustain local Black and queer-owned food establishments and food trucks during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Meet Kaye



Community Resources



Food Not Bombs: Food Not Bombs is a global organization focused on recovering food that would otherwise be discarded. They are volunteer-run and help the hungry in over 1,000 cities and 65 countries.  

Free99Fridge: Free99Fridge is a grass-roots organization fighting for food justice while addressing the needs of local neighbors through mutual aid. They maintain a no-cost community fridge containing high-quality produce and non-perishable food. 

Tiffanie Barriere: Tiffanie Barriere is an award-winning bartender, educator, and influencer based in Atlanta. She provides a variety of services, including staff training, virtual cocktail classes, and brand activations. 



Counter Narrative Project: Counter Narrative Project amplifies the voices of Black gay men through storytelling as a tool for social change.   

Men Not Myths: Aiming to destroy the “absent Black father” myth, Men Not Myths is a line of tees and hoodies made by a loving father, for other loving fathers and those who love them. 

Out Front Theatre Company: Out Front Theatre Company is Atlanta’s LGBTAIQ+ theatre, producing theatre that is focused on LGBTQ+ stories. 

Southern Fried Queer Pride: South Fried Queer Pride is a community-led, grassroots non-profit that provides community spaces through events and fundraising, spotlighting Southern queer history, culture, and activism. 

Sweet Tea: Black Gay Men of the South: Sweet Tea is a collection of stories from Black gay men born, raised, and living in the South, created by E. Patrick Johnson. 



Black Mental Health Alliance: The Black Mental Health Alliance provides culturally relevant educational forums, trainings, and referral services that support the health and well-being of Black people and their communities.  

LGBTQ+ Housing: The ATL LGBTQ division of LGBTQ Affairs is a housing resource guide for LGBTQ youth. Resources and partners include HOME, Covenant House, CHRIS 180, Lost-N-Found Youth and the Trans Housing Atlanta Program. 

OUT Georgia: Proudly serving as Georgia’s LGBTQ+ and Allied Chamber of Commerce 



Meet Our Generous Sponsors