Our new friends at First We Feast reached out to let us know about their first new documentary, “Hometown Hero: The Legend of New York’s Chopped Cheese,” and its origins at Hajji’s on 1st Avenue at 110th Street in Harlem – nuff said.
To understand the real New York, you’ve got to understand the real chopped cheese. So, what exactly is a chopped cheese?
On the surface, that would seem simple. The Bodega specialty gets its name from the “chopping” of hamburger patties, which occurs on the griddles in delis from Harlem to Hollis, Queens. The minced meat is covered in cheese, slipped into a roll or hero, and dressed with standard-issue condiments.
But when we began to peel back the layers and ask questions about its origin story, how it became so popular, and why it’s so difficult to find one in lower Manhattan, we were introduced to a much deeper tale fueled by borough rivalries, hip-hop mythology, and hard-to-swallow truths, giving us a more meaningful glimpse into what makes this city tick.
“Hometown Hero: The Legend of New York’s Chopped Cheese” gives you a chance to hear directly from real New Yorkers—such as the Harlem cooking collective Ghetto Gastro, rapper Bodega Bamz, and humorist Jeffrey Almonte—who want to protect the sandwich from outsiders, re-mix it in professional kitchens, or simply remind you that there’s more to this sandwich than meets the eye.
Here’s the video:
Harlem Cultural Archives is a donor and foundation-supported Historical Society, Its mission is to create, maintain and grow a remotely accessible, online, interactive repository of audio-visual materials documenting Harlem’s remarkable and varied multicultural legacies, including its storied past as well as its continuing contributions to the City and State of New York, the nation, and the world. Support Harlem Cultural Archives and click here to get more Harlem History, Thank you.