Last weekend, May 21-22, Morningside Park was transformed into a food and cultural wonderland. The occasion: The 2nd Annual Harlem EatUp! Saturday and Sunday Strolls. Co-founded by celebrity chef, Marcus Samuelsson and Karlitz & Company, the expanding event is designed to showcase the spirit of Harlem through its food, art, music, fashions, and culture. A man of the world, and of the community, it is Samuelsson’s infectious energy (and star power!) that drives and fuels Harlem EatUp! in the neighborhood. At the same time, as our little culinary landscape continues to sprawl and adapt, our restaurateurs - many of them first time owners - are proving their own star power. Harlem EatUp! has certainly provided another space for them to shine!

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Harlem EatUp! 2016  launched on May 19th with its Dine In Harlem Series – exclusive seatings at several participating restaurants Thursday and Friday evenings, pairing celebrity and local chefs. Featured establishments included Melba’s, Sylvia’s, Vinateria, Blujeen, Mountainbird, The Cecil, Mintons, and Ginny’s Supper Club. The celebration expanded with The Stroll over the weekend, where more than one-hundred additional exhibitors, presenters, restaurants, chefs, and beverage vendors joined in by serving special tastings and demos, and taking to the Macy’s main stage. Some of our favorite DJs set the atmosphere,while families enjoyed activities with kids, and several local artists were invited to display their original works. Visitors were able to enter the park and experience the Harlem EatUp! Market for free. But, an $80 ticket earned your entry into The Stroll, including the Wine & Beer Garden, where pass-holders could enjoy unlimited treats and drinks all day.

The display by Harlem restaurants was a shining testimony to our growing culinary community. For five hours straight, throughout the weekend, they satiated thousands of hungry and inquisitive visitors – most while maintaining open businesses back on the avenues. Chai Wali offered samples of its Mango Lassi and spice cookies at the Sunday Stroll while hosting live music and a party of fifty at their seven month-old establishment. Chef Carlos Swepson of Boulevard Bistro served Shrimp & Grits on Saturday, but had earlier advised participating restaurants to consider preparing for Harlem EatUp! from another commercial kitchen, in order to maintain the flow of regular weekend business at their eateries. Each of them have their own secrets, we are sure, for managing the EatUp! frenzy. It was a busy weekend for food in Harlem, and our restaurants delivered!

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heu-tafaImages (top to bottom): Harlem Eatup co-founders, Herb Karlitz and Marcus Samuelsson pose with Bill Clinton (photo courtesy of HarlemEatUp.com); Sylvia’s serves Sassy Beef Tacos at the Sunday Stroll; Barilla Pasta chef demonstrates a seafood risotto medley; Samples from Vinho Verde Wines (of Portugal) and Streetbird; Youngsters enjoying EatUp! family activities (photo Getty Images); Artist Tafa, creating live art at the Sunday Stroll.

CLICK HERE for full and fabulous coverage on Harlem EatUp! 2016 in the NY Amsterdam News.