DeVonn Francis’ simple recipe for spicy watermelon salad

To celebrate DeVonn Francis’ inclusion in the Wallpaper* USA 300 list, we revisit this recipe for the perfect summer snack

Men and women dressed in colorful fashion Caribbean-influenced
DeVonn Francis, left and seated
(Image credit: TBC)

Chef DeVonn Francis has been named among the Wallpaper* USA 300, announced in the August 2023 issue of Wallpaper*.

When we first spoke to Francis back in 2020, describing Yardy – his performance-based culinary event company in New York City – was akin to listing activities that the year had rendered near impossible; public performances and dining out were pretty much at a halt due to the pandemic. But rather than deter the young creative studio, 2020 highlighted the relevance of the Yardy project in a new, post-Covid world.

Yardy pasta dish

(Image credit: Yardy)

Francis founded Yardy in 2017 as a series of pop-up diners that served artistically plated, Caribbean-influenced food to a rotating group of creatives. For Francis, a queer, first-generation Jamaican-American, Yardy was a way of exploring his own Caribbean identity, while simultaneously creating welcoming spaces for other people, particularly those who identify as Black, brown and queer, to celebrate their own personal histories. 

Yardy cauliflower dish

(Image credit: Yardy)

Celebrating diversity is at the heart of the Yardy ethos, and every event featured collaborators with the same mission – from music curated by Papi Juice, an art collective dedicated to the celebration of queer and trans people of colour, to dishes made with ingredients such as Shaquanda’s Hot Pepper Sauce, created by the drag queen Shaquanda. 

Post-lockdown, Francis found new ways to feed conversations and stomachs. With Yardy, he has raised thousands of dollars for the free-meal relief programme in his native Crown Heights, Brooklyn neighbourhood and partnered with Food Issues Group and Partnership with Children to deliver groceries to Brownsville families.

Yardy chicken salad

(Image credit: Yardy)

Meanwhile, Francis’ ‘Living Room’ videos on Instagram saw him hosting video interviews with the likes of artist Jacolby Satterwhite and writer Kimberly Drew. Now, Francis is a video host and chef for Bon Appetit magazine, while still spearheading Yardy. 

Here, as we celebrate the chef’s inclusion in the Wallpaper* USA 300, find his recipe for spicy watermelon salad. A perfect treat for hot summer days. 

Yardy World Herb & Spice Watermelon 

Yardy World Herb & Spice Watermelon salad

(Image credit: Yardy)

1½ cup watermelon, diced into medium-sized cubes
juice of one lime
2 tsp of scotch bonnet vinegar 
1-2 tbsp of Tajín
mint leaves, torn into bite-sized pieces 
culantro, torn into bite-sized pieces 
pinch of Maldon salt 

Assemble the watermelon onto a plate, and dress with lime juice and scotch bonnet vinegar. Sprinkle mint and culantro over the watermelon. Sprinkle Tajín evenly over the top and unto the sides of the watermelon. Finish with a pinch of Maldon salt.

Writer and Wallpaper* Contributing Editor

Mary Cleary is a writer based in London and New York. Previously beauty & grooming editor at Wallpaper*, she is now a contributing editor, alongside writing for various publications on all aspects of culture.