Last year, when I was just starting to freelance for the Village Voice (R.I.P.), I was starting to gather notes about Harlem Eat Up, the annual two-day festival of Harlem’s food scene co-founded by celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson. When I attended in 2018, my intention was to focus on some graduates of the NYC Food Business Pathways program, one of New York’s food incubators for working class and low-income entrepreneurs with a passion for the food business.

I met the inspiring Jessica Spaulding, who runs the Harlem Chocolate Factory. Spaulding is a Harlem native who expressed some worry about how to keep her business sustainable as money flows to her neighborhood, but doesn’t always find its way to Black entrepreneurs. It was encouraging, then, to see her at the fifth annual Harlem EatUp, which is a true multicultural display of creativity and the expansion of food entrepreneurship as a multi-sensory experience. It’s delightful to sample dishes, cocktails and desserts from local businesses as well as to get the opportunity to learn more about the many gifted chefs and entrepreneurs around us.

Harlem, like the South Bronx, has been reduced in recent years to conversations around gentrification, which is unfortunate. The women I spoke to at Harlem Eat Up, Spaulding included, think that a mix of old and new in Harlem can only be good.

After a few hours in the sun, taking in the sights and familiar faces of proud New Yorkers from last year, it was easy to see what they mean — change is often complicated, but it doesn’t have to be bad. This year it felt like growth had been good not just for Samuelsson and his restaurant, Red Rooster, but also for people who know, love and live in Harlem.

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Cardi B urrito
Created by chef Kevin Thai with Dear Mama, the Cardi B-urrito is a delicious breakfast burrito with housemade green chorizo, salsa verde, soft-scrambled eggs, mozzarella, sweet potato hash + Mexican spicy corn chips (or takis). It’s as delicious as it looks.

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I miss having a garden so much that sometimes I just take pictures of plants for no reason when they’re all gathered this way.

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BarillaPastaYummy
This Mushroom Orecchiette doesn’t look nearly as delicious as it tastes.
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Thanks, Barilla, for sharing the recipe – I’m definitely going to try this one!

 

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I loved this retro display in front of the Red Rooster booth. They had delicious savory tacos, which were really popular this year; in the first ten minutes of walking around the Harlem Stroll and the Ultimate Taster’s test, I had five different tacos. 
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Chef, Actor and Author of the hosting book, Life is a Party, David Burtka with Chef Marcus Samuelsson 

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This gentleman was the mad scientist & this contraption was very cool
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