Chefs had fun, too.
Marcus Samuelsson, Scott Conant, Alex Guarnaschelli, and Aaron Sanchez pictured.
Charles' Country Fried Chicken
Charles' Country Fried Chicken served a traditional soul food sampler, with Charles' signature chicken.
Co-Founder and host Marcus Samuelsson
Chef Marcus Samuelsson greeted guests arriving for the Harlem Stroll.
Sylvia's
Chicken and waffle, appetizer style, from Sylvia's.
Spring pea soup
Sweet spring pea soup by the Sylvia Center was one of the most memorable bites.
Co-host Bill Clinton
President Clinton poses with workers on his way out from the Harlem Stroll.
The Stroll
Part of Morningside Park was converted into the Harlem Stroll for two days.
Jerk Chicken, British Virgin Islands Style
Jerk chicken with sweet potato puree, promoting Caribbean travel.
Shaved asparagus salad
The Grange served an asparagus and prosciutto salad.
Texas beer Shiner Bock
Apparently Shiner Bock is popular in Harlem.
Crowds around chefs
The stars were out, and accessible at the Harlem Stroll.
Chefs had fun, too.
Marcus Samuelsson, Scott Conant, Alex Guarnaschelli, and Aaron Sanchez pictured.
Chefs had fun, too.
Marcus Samuelsson, Scott Conant, Al...
Charles' Country Fried Chicken
Charles' Country Fried Chicken served a traditional soul food sampler, with Charles' signature chicken.
Charles' Country Frie
Charles' Country Fried Chicken serv...
Co-Founder and host Marcus Samuelsson
Chef Marcus Samuelsson greeted guests arriving for the Harlem Stroll.
Co-Founder and host M
Chef Marcus Samuelsson greeted gues...
Sylvia's
Chicken and waffle, appetizer style, from Sylvia's.
Sylvia's
Chicken and waffle, appetizer style...
Spring pea soup
Sweet spring pea soup by the Sylvia Center was one of the most memorable bites.
Spring pea soup
Sweet spring pea soup by the Sylvia...
Co-host Bill Clinton
President Clinton poses with workers on his way out from the Harlem Stroll.
Co-host Bill Clinton
President Clinton poses with worker...
The Stroll
Part of Morningside Park was converted into the Harlem Stroll for two days.
The Stroll
Part of Morningside Park was conver...
Jerk Chicken, British Virgin Islands Style
Jerk chicken with sweet potato puree, promoting Caribbean travel.
Jerk Chicken, British
Jerk chicken with sweet potato pure...
Shaved asparagus salad
The Grange served an asparagus and prosciutto salad.
Shaved asparagus sala
The Grange served an asparagus and ...
Texas beer Shiner Bock
Apparently Shiner Bock is popular in Harlem.
Texas beer Shiner Boc
Apparently Shiner Bock is popular i...
Crowds around chefs
The stars were out, and accessible at the Harlem Stroll.
Crowds around chefs
The stars were out, and accessible ...

First attempts to produce major festivals rarely go this well. The inaugural Harlem Eat Up proved what is possible when committed chefs and the community come together and invest professional resources — and lots of their own time to make a big event happen.

Harlem Eat Up is a four-day series of special meals, workshops, chef talks, and tastings celebrating the renaissance of culinary arts in Harlem. In the years since Marcus Samuelsson opened Red Rooster on Malcolm X Boulevard near 125th Street, a long list of restaurants have followed.

The centerpiece,¬†called the Harlem Stroll, consisted of tasting events on both weekend afternoons. Some of Harlem’s top-rated restaurants offered samples, along with dozens of beer and wine samples.

On the demonstration stage, chef Aaron Sanchez joked that he learned about herbs in Morningside Park when he was a teenager in the neighborhood. A lot has changed In those 20 or so years, including that Sanchez is a Food Network star, co-owner with John Besh of Johnny Sanchez in New Orleans and Baltimore, and chef/partner of Paloma, in Stamford, Ct.

Marcus Samuelsson and Aaron Sanchez having fun at Harlem Eat Up.
Marcus Samuelsson and Aaron Sanchez having fun at Harlem Eat Up.

Fans of television food shows had plenty to satisfy their cravings. Throughout the afternoon, some of the most familiar faces from television kitchens were visible and accessible. Daniel Bouloud walked around, while Scott Conant and Alex Guarnaschelli were part of the peanut gallery as Sanchez performed a cooking demonstration emceed by Samuelsson.

“Why does it always have to be white beans,” declared Samuelsson as Sanchez pureed beans with fish to make a version of brandade. The two bantered back and forth with good-natured jokes about each other’s ethnic and culinary background, but they saved their biggest barbs for chefs who weren’t there. Clearly, it was all in good fun.

Next year likely will be even better, but this was a fabulous start.