As associate producer for Harlem EatUp! 2019, I am so excited to be working with some outstanding community art and culture organizations around Harlem for the pre-festival program WarmUp! to EatUp! All of the participants, both old and new, are in service to the community and highlighting the uniqueness of our village. Thank you.

The WarmUp! to EatUp! program began on Sunday with an Art in FLUX in-studio visit with artist/sculptor Jordan Baker-Caldwell at JCC Harlem. He demonstrated how he works with found and fabricated objects to create figurative and organic forms. Guests, donning welding masks, watched him create his art live.

This past Monday night I stepped into a great event in Harlem at Solomon & Kuff Rum Hall for a James Beard Foundation Greens event exploring African diaspora food culture. The event brought three Harlem restaurants, old and new, to the West Harlem restaurant and paired them with signature rum cocktails.

The rum hall was alive with energy as soon as I walked in the door. Guests were milling about; Caribbean music was floating through the air and the smell of food was intoxicating. I began my journey with LoLo’s Seafood Shack offering seafood bobotie, a bake of rice, plantains, potato, shrimp and fish. I tasted that delicious LoLo’s house curry sauce in there. On the side were housemade plantain chips with pineapple chutney salsa. Yes, I went back three times.

Next to LoLo’s was the world-renowned chef, Pierre Thiam, representing his new Harlem restaurant, Teranga, in the Africa Center at 110th Street and 5th Avenue. On this night he put forward the humble story of the black-eyed pea and its journey from Africa to the south with his salad rich with heirloom tomatoes and herbs. Thiam also highlighted a grain called fonio in his salad with roasted beets and pickled carrots. I could not get enough of that texture.

Solomon & Kuff would not be left out of this food story with passed hors d’oeuvres of jerk chicken and yam soup shooters, fried fish and a vegan vegetable plate of pickled melon, cassava, tomatoes and salsa verde. To tell the story of Solomon & Kuff, owner and mixologist, Karl Williams, prepared two Flor de Cana rum cocktails—Raisin Old Fashioned, with raisin reduction, and Viejo Pareja Cubana, with mint and lime.

Our sweet endings came from Harlem’s own Make My Cake with assorted miniature cheesecakes and that (owner) Aliyyah Baylor warm spirit. And, before floating out, we received a gift bag of goodies from Curated Culture and the James Beard Foundation to remember the evening. Great fun.

Visit www.harlemeatup.com/warmup-to-eatup for more events and to purchase tickets for Harlem EatUp!.

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, www.talkingSCHOP.wordpress.com. Questions? Comments? Requests? Feedback? Invitations! Email AmNewsFOOD at AmNewsFOOD@SCHOPnyc.com. Follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook @NYAmNewsFOOD and tag us with #SoAmNewsFOOD with your food finds!