That’s right people. The 2016 Uptown Arts Stroll kick-off is taking place on Wednesday, June 1st 2016 at the Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art & Storytelling. This year’s honorees are Wilhelmina Obatola Grant, Felipe Galindo, Ellen Baxter and Carol Ward. The program will be emceed by Carol Jenkins, Emmy Award-winning TV anchor and journalist, and host of Black America and will feature a plethora of performances from Uptown’s talented artistic community. And get this. The special guest of the evening will be none other than Tony Award spoken word poet and actor, Lemon Andersen.
Blink for too long in New York, and when you reopen your eyes, you might find a different city. So much constant flux on one small island inevitably alters the way a city looks, sounds, and tastes. But what is gained in progress is often lost in culture. Long-time locals bemoan New York’s disappearing heritage and the history set aside for rampant economic growth.
In the last decade, Harlem has experienced a business renaissance, bringing a mixture of restaurants whose enticing dishes beckon downtowners toward uptown. This phenomenon has happened throughout New York for years: Gentrification seeps in, neighborhoods get displaced by expanding business, locals get priced out, and history gets erased. Still, walking through Harlem feels very different from walking through Williamsburg; in Harlem, the old coexists and thrives among the new.
Bars and restaurants are buzzing and busy in the evenings, and guests receive genuinely warm welcomes. That same warmth can be seen just before dinnertime, as parents walk their kids home from school and kitchens’ aromas fill the streets from Frederick Douglass Boulevard to Malcolm X Boulevard. The neighborhood smells delicious, and residents comment on it with excitement while gazing at restaurant menus. Long-term residents and new businesses have found harmony like a balanced Béchamel sauce — but like Béchamel, it takes consistent care, meticulous precision, and a committed cook.
This year’s Harlem EatUP! Festival takes place from May 19-22. Find out more information at the Harlem EatUP! website.
This literally came out of nowhere. We didn’t even know we were in the running but we are ecstatic to be considered one of the best NYC neighborhood blogs of 2016. This is an incredible honor and a testament to the sweat equity we put in on a daily basis spreading that Uptown Love. Thanks to Virginia K. Smith and Brick Underground for this awesome accolade. We appreciate it and will continue to fervently preach the Uptown gospel. I like to say that we don’t cover the hood we are the hood. It is super encouraging to see that dedication bearing fruit. Much love to all the other blogs that made the list and are fighting the good fight.
Check it out: The 25 best NYC neighborhood blogs of 2016
BY Jay Rayner
A walk through Harlem at dusk with Marcus Samuelsson is less gentle stroll than royal procession. The chef may be wearing a flat cap, pulled down over his eyes, and a dark jacket, but they all know who he is out here north of Manhattan’s 110th Street. And they want him to know they know. As we barrel from neon-gilded diner to cocktail place, from his own rotisserie chicken joint to the jazz bars he wants me to see, he is constantly greeted with shouts of “Hey chef!” from passersby which he returns with a gentle, “Oh, pur-leeze”, and a shrug as if to say: “I’m just another guy.”
For many people in Harlem, Samuelsson is not just another guy. For a start, the Ethiopian-born chef with the aquiline features, the Swedish surname and the only-in-America story, is a major employer. Through his various ventures, including his flagship restaurant the Red Rooster on Lenox Avenue, he has given jobs to 200 locals. Paul McCartney and the jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis have eaten there, along with former state governors and superstar basketball players. It is liberal New York’s fantasy come to life; a single room in this splintered city where its various social tribes really do seem to break bread together.
The food festival Samuelsson launched, Harlem EatUp, held each year in May, brings big-name chefs from all over America to their doorstep. What’s more, having cooked for Barack Obama at the White House, he even brought the president back to his place in Harlem for a $30,000-a-plate election fundraiser. Making his home neighbourhood the star is, he claims, what really matters. “It’s Harlem first, the Red Rooster second,” he says. “A menu you can learn. But the place? Learning a place is different.”
Right now, he is trying to learn an entirely new place. In the autumn, he opens a second Red Rooster, inside the new Curtain Hotel in London’s Shoreditch. His take on American soul food subtly refracted through the lens of his African heritage is coming to London. “We must get 20 requests a year to open a new Red Rooster,” he says. “I only wanted to do it in a city with a dynamic we could learn from.”
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