Wow. Wow. WOW! What an exceptional week filled with pride, joy, revelry, exuberance and a whole mess of that magic we do. Harlem EatUp! 2019 is in the books and I am over the moon about my part in it and the people who make it happen.

Mad shout-outs and “big ups” to Marcus Samuelsson, Herb Karlitz and their respective teams at Marcus Samuelsson Group and Karlitz & Co. As it has been said by many others, “it takes a village.” This production village rose to the occasion and delivered an exceptional fifth year celebration of Harlem food, art and culture.

I must acknowledge Dawn “my work Dawn” Padmore, producer of Harlem EatUp! and VP of culinary marketing for Karlitz & Co. We met five years ago when I was hired to be the official copywriter for the festival naming the The Stroll and the Dine In dinner series. Now, as the associate producer, I am grateful for her guidance, temperance, commitment and the joy she brings to this festival. Love you “work Dawn”!

As is always the case there is too much to capture in just one piece so I hope you will indulge me. The Dine In series this year was truly epic. We are talking first about some pretty amazing restaurants and chefs in Harlem like Chef Kenichi Tajima of East Harlem’s Mountain Bird, Chef JJ Johnson of the soon-to-be opened FieldTrip, Chef Mimi Weissenborn of Vinateria and Chef Michael Maitrel-Burgard of Solomon & Kuff. Then we are adding world-class, Michelin starred, James Beard Foundation award-winning chefs and restaurateurs like Michael Elegbede, Marc Vetri, Daniel Boulud and Kwame Onwuachi, paired respectively, just to name a few.

The highlight of the Dine In series for me this year was the annual Luminary Dinner held at Ginny’s. Awardees Lana Turner and The Honorable David N. Dinkins were in their Harlem finest to receive their awards amongst friends, family and Harlem’s royalty. And I must not forget the food and chefs who produced it, Ed Brumfield of Red Rooster, Emma Bengsston of Aquavit and, my fan-girl moment, JBF awardee, Mashama Bailey of The Grey in Savannah.

Finally, the Luminary evening got even better when Marcus welcomed “work Dawn” to the stage where she sang two songs—a hymn and another in an African dialect. Her operatic voice vibrated throughout the room and moved me to tears.

Ending that night in the kitchen of Ginny’s with the chefs, cooks, producers, awardees and my mother too (aka “home Dawn”) was the cherry to my festival sundae. I am forever grateful to my team and the Harlem community for showing up and showing out.

Cin cin! Here’s to you.

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, 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!