Eat Up Harlem participants Skai Young of LoLo's (bottom left), vegetarian eggrolls (top right) and Marcus Samuelsson Streetbird Rotisserie (bottom right) (139282)
Credit: Kysha Harris photos

After a full year of planning and preparing, today kicks off the first official day of the inaugural Harlem EatUp! (@HarlemEatUp), a celebration of food, culture and spirit brought to Harlem by friends and colleagues Marcus Samuelsson (Red Rooster, Ginny’s, Streetbird) and Herb Karlitz (Karlitz & Company). What began as a spirited idea has become a four-day festival marking the beginning of something special for all who take part.

Tomorrow night, Harlem restaurants and chefs welcome guest celebrity chefs to their kitchens for a one-night only dinner party for the ages. Harlem favorites such as Melba’s, Settepani, Ginny’s and more will be creating a magical evening for their guests with guest chefs such as Jacques Torres, Daniel Boulud, Ken Oringer (Toro) plus some “Top Chef” contestants and food television personalities. Look out for the minor earthquake as guests pull up their collective chairs at once!

Saturday begins with “Harlem Talks,” a series of discussions with chefs, restaurateurs, artists, television personalities and more on topics ranging from a day in the life of a chef and how to open a restaurant to delving inside the artistic process and an intimate conversation with the award-winning choreographer Bill T. Jones. These talks are sure to inspire and spark action.

Harlem Eat Up! participants (132670)

Saturday and Sunday, Morningside Park will be the booming locale of two Harlem EatUp! events, “The Stroll” and “A Sunday Afternoon in Harlem.” “The Stroll” is a walk-around tasting where guests will sample the best Harlem has to offer, including food, drink, art, dance and fashion. “A Sunday Afternoon in Harlem” is perfect for the entire family, offering a day of community celebration replete with food, art and activities. General admission is free for both “The Stroll” and “A Sunday Afternoon in Harlem” events.

Saturday, stroll “The Avenue” of artisans and purveyors selling specialty foods and art and watch masterful culinary demonstrations by top chefs. Sunday adds a live gospel choir; the “Sports Zone,” featuring the New York Knicks; the Kids’ Zone, featuring Chloe the Yogi and Figure Skating in Harlem; and a performance stage featuring Harlem School of the Arts and the vibes of Harlem’s own DJ Stormin’ Norman, among many others.

Should you want to heighten your time at Harlem EatUp! with specialty packages and failed to pick up your tickets in advance, have no worries. You can visit the festival’s satellite box office at Streetbird Rotisserie (2149 Frederick Douglass Blvd. at 116th Street) Saturday, May 16, and Sunday, May 17, between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. There you can purchase tickets for “The Stroll” (“The Experience” package for $75, VIE for $150) and “A Sunday Afternoon in Harlem” (EATS and SIPS packages are $50 each). Visit for all the details.

Sunday, please stop by the Amsterdam News booth to say hello to our #AmNewsFOOD winners #Simplicious vegetarian eggrolls and Chez Diarra African hot sauces (@TasteofAfrica2). Together, these Harlem-made foods are a match made in heaven! Have a taste while you get your subscription to the Amsterdam News and have your caricature drawn by Ike of My Funny Side ( Join us for the fun!

Don’t miss a bite of the new Amsterdam News food section, #AmNewsFOOD, by following us on Twitter and Instagram at @NYAmNewsFOOD for all things food in and around Harlem and greater New York City too.

Happy EatUp!’ing and thanks for reading!

Kysha Harris is a food writer, culinary producer, consultant and owner of SCHOP!, a personalized food service offering weekly and in-home entertaining packages. Questions? Comments? Requests? Feedback? Invitations? Email her at, follow her on Twitter and Instagram @SCHOPgirl and on Facebook For even more recipes, tips and food musings, subscribe to her blog at