Describing Yardy – a performance-based culinary event company out of New York City – is practically akin to listing activities that 2020 has rendered near impossible, with no audiences for performances, public food production at a halt, and in-person events almost entirely canceled (particularly in one of the epicenters of the coronavirus pandemic). But rather than deter the young creative studio, 2020 has highlighted the relevance of the Yardy project in our new, Covid-affected world.

Founded by artist DeVonn Francis, Yardy began in 2017 a series of pop-up dinners that catered 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 chef decorating white cake with flowers

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 like Shaquanda’s Hot Pepper Sauce, created by the drag queen Shaquanda. 

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

woman in draped fabric and long earrings holding cabbage

Meanwhile, Francis’ ‘Living Room’ video on Instagram sees him hosting video interviews with people like the artist Jacolby Satterwhite and writer Kimberly Drew.

Yardy has recently opened a pop-up location at Manhattan restaurant The Smile but for those who can’t make it in person, Francis has shared the below at-home friendly recipe for spicy watermelon. 

Yardy World Herb & Spice Watermelon 

spicy watermelon on blue background

1-½ 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 watermelon onto plate dress with lime juice and scotch bonnet vinegar 
Sprinkle mint and culantro on the watermelon 
Sprinkle Tajín to evenly distribute over top and unto the sides of the watermelon 
Finish with a pinch of maldon salt. §