Monday, November 1, 2010

A Black Atlas & a Red Rooster in Harlem

Hey, all!

In the interest of disclosure I just want to let you know that this post is part of a sweepstakes I'm entering for Black Atlas. Black Atlas is a site sponsored by American Airlines, and it seeks to create and encourage a community of travelers within the Black community here in the U.S. I have not written about my experiences "Traveling While Black" as I like to call it. I will eventually. That being said, I'm excited to even see the existence of this site, and I hope it will spur more African-Americans to travel both at home and abroad.

Anyhoo, Black Atlas is sponsoring an opportunity to spend an evening at the opening of Chef Marcus Samuelsson's new restaurant in Harlem, the Red Rooster. The Red Rooster is currently Harlem's most anticipated restaurant opening and will feature a menu of "elevated American comfort food." The name is a nod to an old Harlem hangout frequented by legends such as James Baldwin and Willie Mays.

Chef Marcus Samuleson is primarily known for his accomplishments at Aquavit, New York City's premiere Scandinavian restaurant (Samuelson was born in Ethiopia but grew up with his adoptive parents in Sweden). He became Aquavit's executive Chef at the age of 24 and became the youngest person ever to score a three-star review from the New York Times. Not bad, right? You may also know him as the most recent winner of Top Chef Masters. To have a chef of Samuelson's caliber opening a restaurant in Harlem is a wonderful thing and a testament to the changes that are going on Harlem right now. Samuelsson is a Harlem resident and has been seeking to open a restaurant here for some time.

Sadly, I think many people both in and outside of New York give Harlem a bad rap. At times I have too (I'm an outer-boroughs girl, what can I say?), but living in Harlem for a year changed my perception of it completely. What I realized about Harlem is that there are many hidden gems in the neighborhood that reflect both the old and new aspects of Harlem's history and its future. Whether it's my favorite lesser-known southern soul food spot Miss Maude's (candied yams and spot-on fried chicken), catching a play at the Harlem Stage, letting the world go by at the Society Cafe, resisting chocolate cake at Make My Cake, seeing a special exhibit at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (which has recently acquired Maya Angelou's personal papers)....there's so much to see and experience in Harlem.

Here's a great video produced by Black Atlas featuring Marcus Samuelsson showcasing some of the wonderful things Harlem has to offer. By the way, the owner of 67 Orange Street, featured in the video, is a college friend! It's great to see people you know building institutions in the community. I hope you enjoy it and learn a little more about Harlem.


BigAppleNosh said...

I'm really excited about Red Rooster; I've only explored the more mainstream sites in Harlem (a few soul food places and the Apollo) but would love to get off the beaten path!

lobster said...

I haven't explored much of Harlem! Will have to check out your recommendations sometime


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