Credit: Kysha Harris photos

It was another fun community outing at Harlem Park to Park’s annual Harlem Harvest Festival. Restaurants, vendors, adults, children, families and friends all converged on St. Nicholas Square between 116th and 117th streets to see an abundance of Harlem offerings.

For the second year I served as judge in the Harvest Festival Bake Off. Harlemites came out on a gorgeous fall day, vying for best pie, cake, brownie and cookie and fan favorite, too. There were many entries so I readied myself and promised to take only one or two bites—yeah right! These contestants gave me and my fellow judges each servings of their creations. Thank goodness the mother of Harlem’s own Make My Cake, Joann Baylor, was on the dais to give her professional baking thoughts.

At the end of the contest and deliberation, first, second and third place ribbons (where applicable) were doled out. Congratulations again to the winners!

Best Cake

1st Place: Adria Bell of Ida Preserves for Tennessee Jam Cake

2nd Place: Timiza Sanyika of Delicious Delectables for Spiced Apple Cider Cake

3rd Place: Peter of the Doe Fund for Pumpkin Cheesecake

Best Pie

1st Place: Kate Ishi for Banana Cream Pie

Best Brownie

1st Place: Peter of the Doe Fund for Chocolate Pecan

2nd Place: Karen Cheeks-Lomax of Brownie & Co for the Original

3rd Place: Aja Valentine of Kathy’s Cakes & Treats for White Chocolate

Best Cookie

1st Place: Bruce Sawyer of Protea Bakery for Mac Nut Chocolate Chip

2nd Place: Aja Valentine of Kathy’s Cakes & Treats for Aphrodesiac

3rd Place: Peter of the Doe Fund for White Chocolate Cranberry

And the fan favorite went to Tisha Joiner of Treats by Tisha for her red velvet cake! The winners received bragging rights and gift certificates to event sponsor Whole Foods Markets.

Additionally, over 20 local Harlem vendors began their journey vying for the opportunity to have their products carried in Whole Foods Markets in New York City. Each vendor presented his or her product to Elly Truesdell, the Northeast Region’s local forager, during the festival.

This is just the beginning of the process. Ultimately it will take over six months for a select few to make the cut, but just to have the opportunity to be considered is huge. I was happy to see Limation (beverage), Fresh Routes (prepared meal kits), Harlem Soap Company (soaps), SImplicious (prepared foods), Sol Cacao (chocolate) and Seasoned Vegan (dry and frozen foods) doing what they do. I will be following their progress.

Thank you Harlem Park to Park, congratulations to the contestants and vendors, and best of luck to all!

Happy eating 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