Harlem EatUp! Showcases Hot Cuisine And Culture Spots

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Mariecar Frias, weekend producer for The Today Show, Derek Fleming, and Red Rooster founder Marcus Samuelsson

The brand new Harlem EatUp!, Festival aims to highlight the food, culture and renewed spirit of Harlem while paying homage to its roots and creating buzz for the iconic neighborhood.

The festival, founded by celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson with former President Bill Clinton serving as honorary chair, will last from May 14 to 17 and will consist of cultural experiences unique to the Harlem community. The festival aims to bring in revenue for participating restaurants and cultural sites.

“Harlem is such a great community, we’re doing this to put it on the map,” said Samuelsson, who also owns Red Rooster on 126th street and Lenox Avenue.

During the Friday night event “Dine In Harlem”, celebrity chefs like Carla Hall and Sean Brock will partner with local eateries to create special menus and an all-encompassing cultural experience in company of Harlem performers and fine artists.

The West Harlem ramen spot, Jin Ramen, is one of the newer restaurants that will host the festival. Famous for its spicy ramen, the restaurant features an extensive sake menu and works 24 hours to serve its guests its house-made noodles.

Soul-food-lover paradise, Melba’s, a Harlem gem known for its mac and cheese, will also host a Dine In event. The cocktail menu, listed in order of popularity, features vodka mixes and thorough wine offerings. While you wait for your rosemopolitan, you can mingle with the live band and sing-along to soul hits.

Other participating restaurants include The 5 and Diamond, Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, and many other Harlem favorites. Tickets cost $85 and $125 dollars, and some eateries will have two seatings to accommodate demand.

Saturday will feature The Stroll, a grand tasting at Morningside Park hosted by different local eateries, food demonstrations by more celebrity chefs, and live music and performances.

Visitors can buy specialty foods and see chef demonstrations at The Avenue, which has no admission fee and is open to the public.

“The Harlem EatUp is really a bird’s eye view of culture in Harlem,” said Derek Fleming, director of business development at Marcus Samuelsson Group.

The Experience at The Stroll will highlight the art, music, style and dance of Harlem in four tents, along with signature chef creations. Wine, beer and spirits will also be available.

General tickets for The Experience are $75 and include access to tasting tents and culinary demonstrations. Very Important Eater (VIE) tickets go for $150, and in addition to tasting tents and culinary demonstrations, include access to photo ops with celebrity chefs and TV personalities, a free pass to the Studio Museum, and a copy of Studio Magazine.

“You can’t do culture without art, especially not without food,” said Studio Museum Director and Chief Curator Thelma Golden. “Without music, without food, Harlem would be so different.”

El Museo del Barrio will also participate for a private event.

Saturday’s schedule will also host Harlem Talks, a panel discussion with leaders in the restaurant business, including How To Open a Restaurant with local chefs, and How to Serve the Community, a discussion on what role the hospitality industry plays in a community. Tickets for Harlem Talks are $35 each.

“Bottom line is economic development,” for the local businesses, added Fleming.

A block-party style event ends the festival, “A Sunday Afternoon in Harlem,” at Morningside Park. With local art on display, Harlem restaurant vendors will sell $7 plates a la carte, and interactive activities for all ages, including a Kids’ Zone with story telling healthy eating activities.

While admission to the event is free, visitors can buy an EATS package for $50 that includes 10 tickets for food. The SIPS pass grants access to sample the wine, spirits and beer tents for the same price.

Event organizers hope to bring New Yorkers who wouldn’t usually wonder into Harlem for different reasons, and show them the variety the neighborhood has to offer.

“We want to really reflect Harlem, the intellectual, visual, and artistic experience,” said Fleming. “Harlem is a gem that has a lot to offer and we want to showcase that.”

The festival, first of its kind in Harlem, will bring nation-wide buzz to participating sites that would otherwise not have a means of getting exposure on bigger outlets.

 

 

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