The food, culture and art of New York City’s historic Harlem neighborhood is celebrated at Harlem EatUp!, an annual festival that not only highlights the vibrant community but has also brought economic growth to Harlem.
Award-winning Chef Marcus Samuelsson and Herb Karliz, president of Karlitz & Company, united three years ago to produce Harlem EatUp!. Samuelsson said they thought of two friends whom might support their endeavors: EY (No. 1 on the 2017 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list) and renowned Chef Daniel Boulud.
EY’s Karyn Twaronite with Chefs Daniel Boulud and Marcus Samuelsson
“EY was a friend of ours and Chef Daniel was the first chef that signed on,” he said Tuesday at a dinner hosted by the firm to kick off this year’s festival, which takes place through Sunday.
“And I tell you what, when you have a corporate partner like EY, you have a chef friend like Chef Boulud, life gets a little bit easier. So I want to say ‘Thank you.'”
Karyn Twaronite, partner and EY global diversity and inclusiveness officer, said the company was immediately receptive when presented with Samuelsson and Karliz’ idea.
“When Marcus and Herb and the team approached EY a number of years ago to be involved, right away, they had us at ‘Hello,'” Twaronite said at the dinner. “They brought the idea and we jumped in.”
Twaronite said EY U.S. Chairman and Americas Managing Partner Steve Howe wanted the company to be involved in the venture, and “we are incredibly proud” to have been connect to Harlem EatUp! “since the get go,” she said.
The festival has amplified local businesses and fostered a spirit of entrepreneurship within the community.
“Harlem EatUp!, in the number of years since Marcus and the team has been meeting this effort, has made a tremendous value to the Harlem neighborhood,” Twaronite said. “And they’ve amplified the businesses locally, including restaurants, artisans and retailers. Bringing real revenues and jobs to Harlem.Marcus has created at least 500 jobs, personally, in Harlem.”
Twaronite said EY tremendously values diversity and inclusiveness and entrepreneurship “not just for our people or for our clients, but those that are in our neighborhoods and communities as well.”
Samuelsson was born in Ethiopia in 1971. After his mother died from tuberculosis, Ann Marie and Lennart Samuelsson adopted him and his sister, Linda, in 1973, and he was raised in Sweden. His grandmother was a personal chef and helped cultivate his passion for cooking.
In 1995, as the chef of the Scandinavian restaurant Aquavit in Manhattan, Samuelsson earned a three-star rating from The New York Times at the age of 23. He is also a New York Times best-selling author and an international restaurateur, and is known as a celebrity chef for his television appearances.
His restaurants in Harlem Ginny’s Supper Club, Red Rooster Harlem and Streetbird Rotisserie not only offer culinary delights, but have also become staples within the community.
EY’s dinner on Tuesday for its colleagues and partners who support entrepreneurship was held at Ginny’s Supper Club and featured a four-course meal of signature specialties. Local musicians also performed, celebrating the spirit and talent of the neighborhood.
Samuelsson is a resident of Harlem himself, and he talked about his aspirations for success when coming to the United States as an immigrant.
“You come to America with this idea of ‘you have a shot, ‘you have a chance,'” he said.
But before settling in America, Samuelsson said he got his start through an internship at a restaurant close to where Chef Boulud grew up. Boulud, originally from Lyon, France, has lived in the U.S. since 1982 and is widely celebrated as one of America’s leading culinary authorities.
His Michelin-starred flagship, Daniel, and properties across the globe, reflect his signature of bringing a contemporary feel to dishes rooted in the French tradition.
Samuelsson said Boulud has been a mentor to him. And Boulud said that Samuelsson, in turn, serves as a mentor for community members.
“Marcus has been such an inspiration in New York, and in the dining scene in America, but [especially] in New York in his own neighborhood to have raised the bar so high and give so much.”
“For you, from Ethiopia, and then growing up in Sweden, I think you inspire a lot of people to become one day Marcus themselves,” Boulud said to Samuelsson.
Both chefs support causes that give back to the community. The net proceeds from the ticket sales of Harlem EatUp! will benefit two non-profit organizations: Citymeals-on-Wheels and Harlem Park to Park.
“Thank you Karyn and EY for supporting Marcus’ and Herb’s dream to do Harlem EatUp! three years ago,” Boulud said. “Tonight, it’s about friendship and it’s about dreaming to make Harlem EatUp! one of the best festivals in America.”