This past Monday began the second annual Black Chef Series, held at Harlem’s Blujeen (@BlujeenNYC, 2143 Frederick Douglass Blvd., 212-256-1037, It was the first of six bimonthly dinners featuring talented chefs from both in and out of Harlem. Hosted by actress Amirah Vann, currently playing Ernestine on the WGN America series “Underground,” the packed house was rapt with anticipation for the four courses prepared by four different chefs.

Every day, talented African-American chefs do what they do in their kitchens, restaurants and eateries, mostly unnoticed by their patrons. The Black Chef Series was created to highlight these chefs and provide a culinary platform to showcase their skills, knowledge and talents, individually and as a collective. Each night, a different chef, taking diners on a unique food journey, helms each dinner.

On this night, Chef Russell Jackson (@ChefRJackson), fan favorite of Food Network’s “Next Food Network Star,” creator of SubCulture Dining and host of Bravo’s “Going Off the Menu,” started us off with ceviche Diablo—yellowtail, avocado, fermented spring onions in a bath of spicy smoked aqua dulce topped with puffed rice served in half of a smoked young coconut with a Korean kimchi cracker. It was the perfect start on a warm summer night!

Our second course was prepared by Chef Max Hardy (@ChefMaxHardy). An accomplished personal chef, designer and philanthropist, Hardy continues to move his career forward. He prepared Asian braised lamb with cognac and hoisin barbeque sauce and sides of pickled vegetables and saffron infused grits.

The executive chef and owner of Blujeen, Lance Knowling (@LanceKnowling), showcased his “contemporary soul food” in our third course. The chef presented 12-hour brisket with smoked and fried lobster dumplings, carrot fondue and melted leeks.

Our last course, dessert, featured the youngest chef of the night, Harlem’s own Chef Lexis Dilligard (@LadyLexisSweets). She created a dessert trio of some of her favorite southern sweets from her shop at 1931 Madison Ave. On the plate were chocolate cognac mousse shooters, peanut brittle and a “smorkie,” chocolate cookie with house-made marshmallow fluff and graham cracker crumbles.

Next up in the series, July 25, is one of Harlem’s newest favorite chefs, Raymond Mohan (@RaymondZMohan) of LoLo’s Seafood Shack (@LoLosSeafood). This accomplished Guyanese chef has traveled the world gathering flavors and experience at some of the top restaurants. He is sure to wow!

The Black Chef Series runs through Sept. 19, and 20 percent of ticket sales will be donated to City Harvest. For more information about the chefs and menus, and to purchase tickets, visit

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 or on Facebook For even more recipes, tips and food musings, subscribe to her blog at Follow AmNewsFOOD @NYAmNewsFOOD.