Year five of the annual Harlem EatUp! festival celebrating the food, art and culture of our village of Harlem and with it the annual feast at the James Beard House. A select group of chefs representing all parts of Harlem were invited to put their love on a plate for all.

As one must, I strolled through the kitchen to see Marcus Samuelsson (Red Rooster) and Charles Gabriel (Charles’ Country Pan Fried Chicken) conferring on plating and Kenichi Tajima (Tastings Social presents Mountain Bird) preparing his course. The House chef, and my good friend, Jameale Arzeno, was keeping everything moving along and smiles on faces.

An evening at the Beard House must begin with canapés but these little bites came from Melba Wilson of Melba’s big heart. They were southern fried chicken and petite eggnog waffles with a shot of her sangria; country catfish tacos with chipotle relish; and Carolina spring rolls with collard greens, rice and black-eyed peas. The guests were clamoring for more.

I grabbed a final shot of sangria and found my way upstairs to table five with some of my Harlem EatUp! colleagues including Yvette Leeper Bueno, owner of Vinateria, Melba and co-founder of Harlem EatUp!, Herb Karlitz. As the night continued to unfold and the E. & J. Gallo Winery wines flowed, I could see the joy and pride Herb holds for the festival and all of its participants and guests.

Our first course came from Vinateria (@VinateriaNYC, 2211 FDB). It was their signature burrata with fig reduction, truffled walnuts, crispy prosciutto and micro basil. I adore burrata and this sweet and savory version hit all the right notes. Chef Mimi has a great palette and I am so looking forward to Vinateria’s Dine In with the master, chef Daniel Boulud, to taste the collaboration.

Second course came from The Grange Bar & Eatery (@grangebarharlem,1635 Amsterdam Ave.) of wagyu beef tartare with capers, marrowbone mousse and toast. Paired with E. & J. Gallo Winery’s (@gallocareers) J Vineyards & Winery brut rosé NV, this was one of my favorite courses. It just screamed, “Summer, here I come!”

Chef Ed of Red Rooster put the mash down on the third course with crispy duck breast over rice grits, farm greens, confit duck rillettes and plum glaze. The cookery was magnificent down to the brunoised yam. The paired Gallo Signature Series Zinfandel was so light for its category, drank smooth and finished dry. Great work!

Fourth course came from the official Harlem pan-fried chicken king, and his pan Cookie, Mr. Charles Gabriel of Charles’ Country Pan Fried Chicken. For those who never had it before, he offered his signature moist and flavorful chicken with collard greens, yams, potato salad and cornbread. Mic drop!

Bringing up the dessert course was chef Kenichi Tajima of Mountain Bird (now settled in the old East Harlem, Harlem Shake location). While not his signature poultry-forward French comfort food, chef Tajima presented a plate of petit sweets—berry cheesecake, chocolate cake with brandy, tiramisu choux swan with dark rum and coffee and MY FAVORITE, sticky toffee fig pudding with chocolate pearls and cream cheese. Arigatōgozaimashita!

It was another deliciously loving evening celebrating Harlem EatUp! Thank you to all of the chefs, their teams and the exceptional staff at the Beard House for your commitment and hard work. See you next year.

Now, Harlem EatUp! is less than two weeks away and I do not want you to miss your food moment this year so please use my personal code, HEU4STAFFKH, to receive 20 percent off both Saturday and Sunday Grand Tasting in Morningside Park.

If you see me, please stop and say hello. I look forward to seeing you there.

Happy eating and thanks for reading!

Visit for more info and to purchase tickets.

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!