Bill Clinton, NYC Mayor Announce Plans For Harlem Food Fest

News & Views | Gerren Keith Gaynor | 05/21/2014 | 10:00 AM EDT

President Clinton, Bill de Blasio and restaurateur Marcus Samuelsson seek to keep Harlem's culture alive

Aside from being a cultural hub for Black tradition and the origin of some of the most notable literature, Harlem is also known for its exquisite cuisine.


New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and former President Bill Clinton announced this week that they have teamed up to put the historic neighborhood’s fine culinary on display with a food and cultural festival. Set to take place in May 2015, the Harlem EatUP! festivities will include tastings, cooking classes, concerts and other cultural events that capture the true essence of Harlem.


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“Thousands of people will come here and they will hear music they would not have heard, hear poetry they would have not have heard, visit museums they would not have visited,” said Clinton, who’s Clinton Foundation office is located on 125th Street. “This is a way of lifting this whole neighborhood in a way that I think will have permanent benefits.”


Celebrity chef and Harlem restaurateur Marcus Samuelsson also partnered with the event.


“We feel like this is such an exciting time to be part of Harlem, to live in Harlem,” Samuelsson said. “This festival will have art, food, music and celebrate the great people of Harlem.”


The concept of Harlem EatUP! is likely de Blasio’s delicate way of addressing a growing concern among Harlem residents who feel gentrification and the increased population of Whites are not only displacing longstanding Black residents, but taking the culture they helped build with it.


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Many of Harlem’s benchmark restaurants are no longer, however, gems like Sylvia’s Restaurant, which celebrated its 51st anniversary last year, remains a cultural attraction.

(Photos from left: Niall Carson - WPA Pool/Getty Images, Fresno Bee/MCT /Landov,AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

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