It was a formidable crowd that gathered yesterday at Ginny’s Supper Club beneath the Red Rooster up in Harlem: Marcus Samuelsson and Herb Karlitz, flanked by Mayor Bill de Blasio and President Bill Clinton, announced that they’ll throw the inaugural Harlem EatUp! festival — a series of ticketed and free events surrounding art, music, and food — next May 15 through 17.
Samuelsson has made it his mission to connect with not just food-loving folks in his neighborhood, but to turn the Rooster into a nexus for Harlem culture, where music, art, and, sometimes, politics converge over drinks and food. This festival is an extension of that mission, and he said he hopes it will bring more people and attention to the area, as well as provide an outlet for the creatives living nearby to be seen and heard by people from all over the world.
De Blasio stressed that Harlem has a global brand, and that people from all over the world cherish the neighborhood for what it represents culturally. Protecting and celebrating what makes Harlem Harlem is an important part of the festival.
And President Clinton hammered that point home, too: “This festival is about food, but it’s also about the culture of Harlem,” he said. “It’s about the thousands of people who will come here and hear music they would not have heard. They will hear poetry they would not have heard…They will see our famous churches that they’ve only heard about. This is about lifting this neighborhood in a way that I think will have permanent benefits economically for the people who live here.”
It’s Samuelsson and Karlitz’s intent to make this an annual event, and they’ve enlisted the help of chefs from all over the city to get it off the ground.