Talking SCHOP! Harlem Harvest Festival 2019

Kysha Harris | Food Editor, @SCHOPgirl | 10/24/2019, 2:12 p.m.
And just like that, Harlem celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Harlem Harvest Festival on Saint Nicholas Avenue between 117th ...

And just like that, Harlem celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Harlem Harvest Festival on Saint Nicholas Avenue between 117th and 118th streets. Held again by Harlem Park to Park, the day was filled with food, fun, entrepreneurship, competition and that great Harlem spirit on an outstandingly beautiful day.

Since the first year I participated in the annual Harvest Bake Off, I have enjoyed being a judge, meeting fellow judges and the contestants and, of course, tasting some of the unique creations. All of these years later, this competition continues to refine itself and become the premier baking competition in Harlem.

Before taking my fork and taste buds to the contestants’ submissions I always walk around to see what else is happening at the festival. There were some of my favorite food vendors and some newbies that piqued my interest. That dude, DJ Stormin’ Norman, on the wheels and introducing the pint-sized impresario, DJ Smithy Boy. Of course, the kiddos were taking in all of the requisite pumpkin carving and decorating, face painting, dancing and eating to be done.

First in my field of vision is one of my favorites, Janie’s Life Changing Baked Goods. Owner Janie Deegan has magic in her fingers from her whimsical cakes to her famous piecrust cookies. Everything you love about a pie from the buttery, flaky crust to the filling to the streusel topping, you cannot have just one…as much as you might try.

I am so glad I got to at least have a taste of my next stop, Mama Pops! Popcorn. Owner Twana Adams (she has the best smile ever) was happily sampling one of her seasonal creations, sweet potato glaze popcorn. Amongst mushroom popcorn, sweet potato, maple syrup and spices listed in the ingredients you will also find, “LOVE!” By the time I returned to buy a bag, she sold out with a fellow line of disappointed people who just heard it was a must try. Twana…um, I need some soon.

I was finally ready to head to the stage and get into judging this year’s baked goods in the categories of cookie, cake, brownie and pie. There was stiff competition in the cake and cookie categories but I just relied on my personal preference; meaning if I wrapped it up for later, I wanted to eat it again.

Congrats to Janie Deegan for once again coming in first place in both the cookie and cake categories, the latter of which was a browned butter pumpkin cake with caramel (my friends almost went to blows over later). Congrats also to Iesha Williams of The Salty Heifer for her OMG Brownie and Sarah Kushner for her apple cheddar pie.

As always, some festival participants tasted and voted on the fan favorites for each category. They are Luquana McGriff of Cake Baked in Brooklyn for her simple yet delicious brownie (my favorite too), Janie Bakes cake (above) could not be denied, Sarah Walle for her death by chocolate crinkle cookies and Laronda Bynum of NY Cookies and Desserts for her coconut sweet potato pie.

What a day! I am already looking forward to Harlem Harvest Festival 2020!

Happy eating and thanks for reading!

Kysha Harris is a food writer and editor, culinary producer, consultant and owner of SCHOP!, a personalized food service in NYC for over 15 years. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram, @SCHOPgirl, on Facebook, /SCHOPnyc, and her blog, Questions? Comments? Requests? Feedback?  Invitations!  Email AmNewsFOOD at Follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook @NYAmNewsFOOD and tag us with #SoAmNewsFOOD with your food finds!