I hope all are staying safe and warm after our first major snowstorm since 2016. Yes, we know Punxsutawney Phil, six more weeks of winter (eye roll). Silver lining, we know how to be inside? No matter, thanks always to our healthcare professionals and frontline essential workers for your resilience no matter the weather.

For you dedicated AmNewsFOOD readers, thank you, you have witnessed my growth on this page. Now in my 16th year writing here I have covered it all and pushed to be involved in happenings in and out of our village. It has been a true labor of love for Harlem and my passion for the business of food.

As part of my push for evolution and growth of this page, I have been seeking qualified candidates to join AmNewsFOOD staff writers for some time…a long time. The wait is finally over! I am so excited for this full-circle moment as I welcome a winner of the “I’m So AmNewsFOOD” Harlem EatUp! contest (Aromas Bakery), baker, cook, teacher and East Harlem resident Chef Eileen Barett as our first staff writer.

In her words:

Ever since I walked away from Tufts University Graduate School, I knew that my heart was in food and that I needed and wanted to be back home in New York City to explore that career path. I remain grateful to Janet Zeller, the mentor who would only promote me if I was honest with myself that my position at Tufts was one that “ignited me.”

Here I am, 18 years later enjoying the choice I made to do what I truly love: teach and cook. From volunteering to lead healthy cooking classes at a diabetes clinic, to creating Earl gray sprinkles for one of the top flavor and fragrance companies in the world, to teaching virtual classes during a pandemic and making designer cakes—I love the food experience and the opportunities it gives me to make a difference for others and for my own professional growth.

As a Harlem native, I am grateful that I returned home to learn and eventually start my business. I love the communities I serve and the colleagues with whom I have the pleasure of collaborating.

Having my hands in different areas of the industry gives me different perspectives and ideas about the changes in the industry as well as a large pool of information from which I can draw. My contributions to AmNewsFOOD will range from making healthy and delicious dishes, elevating your daily meal or even imitating fast food for our little ones. I welcome the opportunity to contribute topics about the industry I love.

Welcome Chef Eileen! I am looking forward to working together again.

Happy eating, stay safe, wear a mask 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 18 years. She is the new Food Editor at www.TheSpruceEats.com. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram, @SCHOPnyc, on Facebook, /SCHOPnyc. 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!