There’s something special about attending a historically Black college or university (HBCU) — and only alumni can explain it.

EBONY, in collaboration with Coke, presents a special edition of Date With a Dish, focused on championing all things HBCU. “I just fell in love with the energy. It was something that I didn’t know existed,” says Eva Marcille, an HBCU alum. “There is no homecoming like an HBCU homecoming.”

The actress and producer, who attended Clark Atlanta University, is joined at the dinner table by three HBCU alums: rappers Slim Thug (Texas Southern University), rapper and activist David Banner (Southern University), and Dorion Renaud, founder of Buttah Skin (Clark Atlanta University). While all parties concur that HBCUs continue to be a space for academic excellence, the panel members also agree that the HBCU experience isn’t just about mastering your craft.

From left to right: Eva Marcille, Slim Thug, David Banner, and Dorion Renaud gather around the Date with a Dish table.

From Homecomings and pledging to dormitory life and devoted faculty, attending a Black college immerses students in a celebration of self. Attendees learn about the breadth of African American culture, not simply in the classroom but by experiencing it firsthand from their peers, who come from all over the United States. “Everything you’re looking for out there, it's right here,” says David Banner, noting that HBCUs are also the ideal space to meet the future professionals you’ll want to collaborate and build with after graduation.

Slim Thug adds: “The networking that comes with that can be the biggest blessing. “Being around people who are chasing greatness, it’s always good to have those numbers in your phone and being able to rely on those people.” HBCUs give their students immeasurable anchoring, exposure to rituals, and, perhaps most important, a sense of unity. 

According to Renaud, that sense of team is modeled to students by faculty and staff. “You know if you fall there’s somebody to pick you up. You know if you’re doing not-so-good in class there’s a teacher that’s somewhat like an auntie and you don’t want to disappoint them. So, I think having the accountability of each other, and students who look like me… was really why I wanted to be there,” he says.

Like every Date With a Dish, the cuisine is just as important as the conversation — and both were delicious. This episode features Houston’s Chef Elmo, owner of E.W. Catering, serving up a mouthwatering menu including crab cakes, blackened catfish, and tasty funnel cakes for dessert, pulling on the flavors of staples at southern-based HBCUs. 

Find out more about the conversation and share in the luxe food experience — check out Chef Elmo’s recipes below.


Blackened catfish atop a bed of dirty rice risotto with curry greens sides.


2 catfish filets
1 tbsp blackened seasoning
3 tbsp butter
2 sprigs of Rosemary


  1. Season the catfish filets with the blackened seasoning.
  2. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a non-stick fry pan. 
  3. Place catfish filets in a skillet, after 3 minutes flip the fish over. 
  4. Put butter inside of the skillet, on the side closest to you. As the butter melts, drop rosemary into the butter.
  5. Spoon butter over the fish repeatedly for one minute. 
  6. Let the fish cook for an additional three minutes until done.


1 1/2 cups chopped celery, onion, and bell pepper
1 lb ground turkey
2 tbsp  garlic salt
2 tbsp garlic powder
2 tbsp of ground sage
10 cups warm chicken broth
16 oz Arborio rice
1 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp butter


  1. Cook 1 lb ground turkey in a medium frying pan, adding half of the seasoning mix. Set it aside.
  2. Add half of the butter and 1 tbsp olive oil to a Dutch oven. 
  3. Sautée celery, onions, and bell pepper for five minutes, until the onions are translucent. 
  4. Add in rice, remaining seasoning mix, and ground turkey. Stir for approximately five minutes, until the rice starts to make a crackling sound. 
  5. Begin adding one cup of broth at a time, each time stirring until the liquid is completely absorbed. Continue doing so for about 20 minutes until the risotto has its creamy texture and the rice is completely cooked. 
  6. Remove from heat and add the remaining butter.


1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup onion chopped
2 smoked turkey necks
1lb cleaned & cut collard greens
2 cups coconut milk
Salt to taste.


  1. Heat oil in a 10-12 quart pot. 
  2. Add onions and turkey necks to sautée (approx five minutes). 
  3. Add coconut milk and stir in curry powder. 
  4. Add in collard greens and let cook for 45 minutes, stirring periodically. 
  5. Add salt to taste.

For the full 3-course meal recipes click here.