Dining With Miss Lil: At Heinz & Chef Marcus Samuelsson’s Kitchen Takeover

December 22, 2023

By Lil Nickelson

 What would you do if you got the opportunity to take over the kitchen of and collaborate with one of America’s top chefs like Chef Marcus Samuelsson at Ginny’s Supper Club in Harlem.

On Wednesday, December 6th, 2023, two seatings were scheduled in Harlem at 310 Malcolm X Blvd in the lower level of Red Rooster Harlem. Heinz kicked off Open Kitchen, a new event series from the brand’s Black Kitchen initiative in partnership with Chef Marcus Samuelsson. The concept behind the series to provide new opportunities, resources, and exposure to up-and-coming black chefs and to set up their culinary businesses.

Two female chefs, Joy Crump and Beth Black who own Foode + Mercantile in Fredericksburg, VA were allowed to take over state-of-the-art restaurant kitchens like the ones located in Red Rooster Harlem to serve their Virginia cuisine to New York City foodies in Harlem. This pop-up experience gave Chefs Beth and Joy the chance to share how they celebrate Black culture through food, music, and community.

As guests arrived, we were greeted with the soulful sounds of the Nate Lucas All Stars, and a house party mix of spicy caramel popcorn, sweet nuts, toasted seeds, and dried herbs was at the bar. The wait staff was passing two signature cocktails: Grown Folks Tea and Rockin’ Rooster Tea. On the tables were sweet potato biscuits with orange-clove butter and a blood orange marmalade lured you to sit and indulge in the freshly made biscuits.

The first course made your taste buds come alive as you took the first spoonful of roasted carrot soup made with ginger, coconut and curry, garnished with a crunchy black and white benne seed brittle and cilantro oil.

The next three courses were served family style to the table, which is a frequent practice in a great deal of Southern restaurants. The next course was pickled jumbo shrimp with chilis, fennel, winter citrus, and black strap molasses bread. Chef Marcus and Chef Joy collaborated on the next course, mushroom farrotto which was made with portobello mushrooms, pumpkin, coconut, farro, injera crumble, pecorino cheese and a special black cherry garnish.

The next course was smoked VA pork tenderloin on top of Ms. Edna Lewis’ creamed collard greens, and whipped sweet potato, with a savory granola, sour apple, and sag pan sauce. (Chef Edna Lewis was a renowned chef, teacher, and author who helped refine the American view of Southern cooking. She championed the use of fresh, in-season ingredients and fresh vegetables.) The last course, dessert, was butterscotch budino with sticky plantain, dried banana, and whipped cream. What I loved about every course was the awakening of your taste buds and something crunchy was in every course.

Serving the dishes family style provided me and the other three people at my table a chance to gain a sense of community with one another as we served up each dish to one another. We served and chatted with one another about each course as we were consuming them, and in between each course as well.

Related: Read other articles on Food and more on Harlem World Magazine by Lil Nickelson.

It was nice meeting and eating with you Malene, Katrina, and Lucas. We exchanged contact information before we left because they were all such interesting people that I’m going to write about in upcoming articles in 2024.

Lil Nickelson

Lil Nickelson is a Senior Consultant with an MBA degree focused on Finance and Financial Management Services from New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business. Skilled in sales, management, business development, marketing strategy, and social media, with a history of working in the food and beverages industry. Her column “Dining with Miss Lil” has been featured in Harlem newspapers and with Harlem World Magazine for numerous years.

Photo credits: 1) Chefs Marcus, Joy and Beth with Nate Lucas and another band member. 2) Second course. 3) Heinz signage for Black Kitchen Initiative.

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