The Harlem EatUp! Food and Arts Festival Is Becoming An International Cultural Destination
Tyrus Townsend

When the weather is scattered and you have a major food festival to attend, what do you do? You push through, darling! As Diddy once exclaimed, “won’t stop, can’t stop” us foodies and enthusiasts from Harlem, Brooklyn, Europe and beyond who ventured to Morningside Park on Saturday and Sunday for Harlem Eatup! to enjoy the Stroll presented by Citibank. The multi-day food extravaganza celebrated the community and culture of a true Manhattan neighborhood while giving back to non-profits to celebrate and support future chefs, artists, and entrepreneurs, so we can keep this festival going for generations to come.

Black folks showed up and showed out, per usual, Harlem style! Many of Harlem’s most beloved personalities, like TV news anchor Tamron Hall and media personality Bevy Smith, were in attendance and jumped right into the action, at one point even joining in a massive Electric Slide moment.

Tyrus Townsend

Catfish Strip Bites at Melba’s

Now back to the food: I sampled everything, from Barilla’s Buffalo Chicken Pasta to Melba’s Fried Catfish Strips. (And shout out to Sette Panni’s Osso Bucco dish, those mini lobster rolls, and extra spicy hot wings too.) At one point my plate runneth over and I had to sit down and catch myself for fear of falling into a food coma. After catching my breath, my sweet tooth began to throb, so I enjoyed a few of  Harlem legend Make My Cake’s passionfruit cake bites topped with Jacques Torres chocolate hearts (the two collaborated on the special dessert) before snacking on a Unicorn Horn at Moffle Bar and grabbing a Marcus Samuelson’s Green Apple Sorbet Popsicle and Hendrick’s Gin artisanal cocktail to cleanse my palette. Of course, that was all just round one, and there was more excitement waiting for me after round two.

Loading the player...

Tyrus Townsend

Make My Cake’s x Jacque Torres Passion Fruit White Chocolate Cake Bite

After stuffing myself silly (again!), I walked off the food by visiting the tent and fell in love with Makeba KEEBS RaintyAfrican wax prints and profile photographs which need to be in everyone’s private collections. I also attended “Mantras & Mimosas” featuring Harlem’s Land Yoga where I meditated, listened to music by DJ Taela and sipped Prosecco cocktails. Can you tell I had fun, yet?

Last but not least, I ended my evening with a visit to Macy’s Main Stage where I enjoyed a culinary dialogue and live cooking demo between Samuelsson, Melba Wilson of Melba’s and A Tribe Called Quest member-turned-chef Jarobi White. To hear his journey from famous wordsmith to new culinary rising-rockstar was refreshing and demonstrated how food and music truly can go hand-in-hand.

As it should, Harlem EatUp! has become a family reunion for the Black, White, young and old, New York natives, transplants, tourists who are all drawn to culture, good eats and other great people. I mean what’s better than food, music, art, culture and a little bit of gospel music to set the vibe? Not a damn thing! See you next year.