The aim of chef Mike Isabella’s “East Coast vs. West Coast, Biggie vs. Tupac” dinner, planned for February at his Washington, D.C,. restaurant Graffiato, was to be a “celebration of hip hop from two of the greatest artists of the 90s,” but the announcement of the $65 meal just managed to offend mothers, beer brewers, writers, librarians, and probably scores of other people before it was pulled this week after allegations of racism. Questionable menu items included such unfunny things as “BLOOD money sausage,” “milk chocolate chip BLUNTS,” and “THUG RICE,” which was apparently made with Arborio dyed black with cuttlefish ink.
The authors of the Thug Kitchen blog and its tie-in cookbook found out earlier this fall that thug is a loaded word, to say the least, and perhaps in any case should not be used to put a trendy spin on vegan food. Adding black ink and riffing on Tupac in service of a novelty seafood dish just seems like more of the same. After complaints surfaced on Twitter, the former Top Chef contestant explained that the menu was a “work in progress”; it’s since been pulled from the restaurant’s website. Isabella is presumably working on a replacement that does not involve cocaine, blood, or bad taste in general.