Chef Alexander Small Is Bringing The World’s First African Food Hall To Harlem
Credit: Chef Alexander Small

Harlem-based Chef Alexander Small is on a mission to get African food the respect it deserves.

The James Beard award-winning chef, author, and entrepreneur behind The Cecil and its sister restaurant Minton’s, has opened the world’s first African food hall, Alkebulan, and it will soon be headed Uptown.

Slated to open in early 2023, somewhere near 125th Street, Smalls has not yet settled on a venue, according to the announcement. 

Alkebulan, which is the oldest name for Africa, is envisioned as a cultural and culinary movement that celebrates the untapped cuisine of the African continent. Before heading to the Big Apple, Smalls is curating a test run of the Alkebulan location in Dubai (which runs through March 2022) to offer elevent African chef-led concepts showcasing the diverse cuisines that Africa has to offer — offering something for every palate. Local art and live music also amps up the cultural immersion at the food hall.

“Despite its rich culinary heritage, African cuisine has been overlooked and underestimated for many years,” Smalls said. “With Alkebulan, we look forward to bringing its diverse and spectacular culinary palates to the forefront by introducing a unique dining concept to two of the world’s most thriving food destinations.”

A concept three decades in the making, Alkebulan’s NYC food hall is the second of three locations that also include London. The food hall will showcase Africa in all its glory, Smalls promises.

Once open, Harlem’s outpost will feature 10 food options from across the African continent, serving up everything “from gourmet dishes and street bites to fusion fare,” a press release reads.

Smalls won the James Beard Foundation Award, which recognizes achievements by US culinary professionals, for his 2018 book Between Harlem and Heaven: Afro-Asian-American Cooking for Big Nights, Weeknights, and Every Day.

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