Elijah Milligan’s been pretty busy these last few years. The chef moved back from the West Coast in 2018 to cook in Joe Monnich’s kitchens the Bercy in Ardmore, Stove & Tap in Lansdale. He launched Cooking for the Culture, a pop-up dinner series he helped put on to “enhance opportunities for African-American chefs and bring people together to talk about creating more equal opportunity in the food industry.”
And after the pandemic hit, after weeks of civil unrest in the city following the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, Milligan was part of the team of chefs who launched Everybody Eats, a chef-led food drive that gave out free meals and essentials in neighborhoods affected by the civil uprisings. All the while even before the COVID-19, he says he’s been planning his own thing.
In his plan he had, two restaurant concepts, which will be called Greenwood, named after the prosperous “Black Wall Street” district in Tulsa, Oklahoma that was destroyed by a white mob in 1921. Greenwood is part of history, and now growing movement, of social spaces opened for, and by, people of color. The Greenwood website describes itself like this: “a non-traditional pop-up supper club that illustrates the appreciation of cultural nuances among Black and Brown communities through culinary experiences.
Greenwood aims to invoke inclusivity of all through the reverence for diverse culture and community.”But for now, Greenwood is a pop-up. The first of the series happened four days ago at the Fitler Club, where Milligan cooked up a menu that featured a peach salad with shiso and burrata. Grilled octopus dressed with nduja sausage and candied calamansi. Smoked and sticky lamb ribs over heirloom grains. You know, his food.