Chef Marissa Leon-John and poet/performance artist Kama La Mackerel serve the first look at Brown Butter—a collaborative and palpably rich Blackness. Photo: Zoë Cousineau
Berlin Reed: Brown Butter
3 June–10 July 2022
Etherington House and Franks Gallery
Curated by Berlin Reed and produced in collaboration with Emelie Chhangur, Nasrin Himada and Sunny Kerr

If I am to be consumed, my sweetness will elude your palate. A strangling mouthful, a suffocating swallow — I will be a bitter molasses. — Berlin Reed

Brown Butter is a conversation between Black Canadian artists presented as a six-week multi-disciplinary exhibition by Gastro Curator, Berlin Reed.  This project pairs chefs Rawan Ali, Marissa Leon-John and Bashir Munye with artists Jade Fair, Kama La Mackerel, Kosisochukwu Nnebe, Odeimin Runners Club, Rye, Gloria C. Swain and Syrus Marcus Ware.

Six creative partnerships create an immersive, succulent environment through installations, performances, events, while limited-run artist ‘artifacts’ extend the experience into the life of the viewer. Brown Butter is not a dining experience. Brown Butter is an internalization of Black thought and a gavage of Black expression.

Brown Butter is part of a year-long series of projects staged in Etherington House as part of “Rehoming Agnes.” These projects anticipate our closure and foreshadow our reopening, marking the transition of the house back to its original use as a residence. Brown Butter will smooth this transformation, grounding Agnes’s re-emergence as a living space in Agnes Reimagined.

Brown Butter is generously supported by the Canada Council of the Arts and the David Bain Memorial Fund, Queen’s University.

Hero image: Chef Marissa Leon-John and poet/performance artist Kama La Mackerel serve the first look at Brown Butter—a collaborative and palpably rich Blackness. Photo: Zoë Cousineau

Meet the chefs


Rawan is an Egyptian baker/artist, who currently lives on the unceded Algonquin territory of Anishnaabeg people (Ottawa, Canada). Navigating the world through multiple political intersections, Rawan has developed an interest in the social sciences, history, indigeneity studies, and art. She has dabbled in different visual arts fields and is currently particularly curious about the creative energies of baking and cooking to build and maintain community and connection. For her, food is not merely sustenance; it’s a tradition as old as humanity. Through her work, she aspires to bring people together, emphasizing that in the simple act of eating, we are all welcome at the table.


Marissa is a completely self-taught chef. Born and raised in Montreal, Marissa’s kitchen reflects the multicultural food haven she hails from. Her Caribbean heritage is the foundation of her passion for honoring tradition and you taste this in every bite of food she prepares. A proud MasterChef Canada alumni, Marissa uses her voice and platform to provide more visibility for other young, black LGBTQ+ members of the culinary community.

Bashir Munye

Chef Bashir Munye is part of a new generation of Toronto chefs who are inspired by global cuisine while creating the future of local and sustainable food ideas. A true global child, Bashir’s experience of food embraces many geographical and cultural boundaries. Born in Somalia, and raised in Italy, he has called Toronto home for the past 22 years. Growing up in the Mediterranean fresh, seasonal foods was the norm. Chef Bashir continues this tradition through his farmer’s market operations where he connects to the local farming and artisanal food business community. His approach to cooking is simple. He is a passionate advocate for promoting diverse food representative of Toronto multicultural communities. He believes and advocates for access to good quality food for everyone. Currently, Bashir is a culinary professor at George Brown College, Food consultant/ recipe developer and an academic researcher.

Meet the artists

Jade Fair

Kama La Mackerel

Named after the god of love, Kama La Mackerel is a multilingual writer, visual artist, performer, translator and educator who believes in love, transformation and justice. Their work ventures beyond the borders of disciplinarity and creates hybrid spaces from which to enunciate decolonial and queer vocabularies. Wholeheartedly invested in ocean narratives, island sovereignty, transgender poetics and ancestral healing, their body of work challenges colonial notions of time and space as these relate to history, power, language, subject formation and the body. lamackerel.net // @KamaLaMackerel

Kosisochukwu Nnebe

Kosisochukwu Nnebe is a Nigerian-Canadian visual artist. Using phenomenology as a methodology, Nnebe’s practice makes use of hesitation as a generative form of affect that opens the viewer and the artist herself up to new forms of understanding. Touching on themes such as the process of racialization, diasporic experience, and epistemic violence and restitution, her work takes her lived experience as a starting point for engaging viewers on issues both personal and structural in ways that bring awareness to their own imbrication and complicity. Nnebe’s work has been exhibited at galleries in Montreal, Toronto, Guelph, Ottawa, Hull and Mountain View, California. She is currently based in Ottawa.

Odeimin Runners Club

The Odeimin Runners Club is a collective of Ogimaakwe– women warriors, Indigenous and Caribbean- whose artistic, curatorial and research practices are inspired by the traditional teachings of the strawberry or heart berry. Adrian Kahgee, (Saugeen First Nation), founding member of Odeimin Runner’s Club, is an artist and Community Arts Educator, currently teaching Visual Arts and Indigenous Studies, with the Bluewater District School Board. She is former Co-Artistic Director and Community Co-ordinator for the Fabulous Festival of Fringe Film. Media and story creator Rebeka Tabobondung is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of MUSKRATMagazine.com a leading digital Indigenous arts and culture magazine established in 2010. Rebeka is also a filmmaker, writer, poet, and Indigenous knowledge researcher with a strong body of work focused on Indigenous birth knowledges. Debbie Ebanks Schlums is a PhD student and Vanier Scholar in Cinema and Media Studies at York University. Her research explores Caribbean diasporic archiving in the Jamaican Diaspora through storytelling and media installation.


Rye is a time-based trans-disciplinary creator. Connect with Rye on social media: Instagram.

Gloria C. Swain

Gloria C. Swain is a MAD multidisciplinary artist [she/her], seniors’ rights and Black mental health advocate working out of Toronto. She works within the mediums of installation, painting, performance, and photography to challenge systemic oppression against Black women and trans folks.

Syrus Marcus Ware

Syrus Marcus Ware is a Vanier Scholar, visual artist, activist, curator and educator. Using painting, installation, and performance, Syrus works with and explores social justice frameworks and Black activist culture. His work has been shown widely, including solo shows 2068:Touch Change at Grunt Gallery, 2018 and Irresistible Revolutions at Wil Aballe Art Projects, 2021. His work has been featured as part of the inaugural Toronto Biennial of Art in conjunction with the Ryerson Image Centre Antarctica and Ancestors, Do You Read Us? (Dispatches from the Future), 2019, as well as for the Bentway’s Safety in Public Spaces Initiative Radical Love, 2020. Syrus has participated in group shows at the Never Apart in Montreal, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the University of Lethbridge Art Gallery, the Art Gallery of York University, the Art Gallery of Windsor, and as part of the curated content at Nuit Blanche, The Stolen People; Won’t Back Down, 2017. His performance works have been part of festivals across Canada, including at Cripping The Stage (Harbourfront Centre, 2016 & 2019), Complex Social Change (University of Lethbridge Art Gallery, 2015) and Decolonizing and Decriminalizing Trans Genres (University of Winnipeg, 2015).

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