Harlem EatUp! Festival

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Organized by Marcus Samuelsson, LUCKYRICE Culinary Council member and restauranteur, and Herb Karlitz, veteran event marketer, the first annual Harlem EatUp! Festival invites you to see and taste all that Harlem has to offer. Taking place May 14-17, this four-day celebration will feature Dine In Harlem (on sale until May 4), a series of collaborative dinners from acclaimed chefs across the country and Harlem's culinary artists where guests will taste distinctive, one-night only menus. In this episode of LUCKYINSIDER, we sit down with Chef Mark Viloria and Richard Kashida of Jin Ramen, one of our go-to ramen joints, and Chef Preston Clark of Lure Fishbar to get an inside look at the special menu they are creating for their May 15 event:

LUCKYRICE: Harlem is such a diverse part of NYC, how do you think its dining scene reflects the area's "melting pot" nature?

Richard Kashida: Over the past few years there has been a major influx of restaurants of different cultures coming into the scene. Little by little, the surrounding fast food establishments have slowly been diluted with amazing restaurants and the food scene today is a major reflection of that. Given the deep cultural roots and the surrounding environments, I feel these changes have been accelerating with all the new residents coming into the Harlem areas. With pioneers paving the way, it's exciting to see where we will end up in five years.

Mark Viloria: I live in Queens where there are so many ethnic backgrounds people say it is the melting pot of the city. I believe the reason is not only the influx of so many people from different countries but their food and the restaurants that open up in each neighborhood they move into. So many people travel to these locations to find that unique homestyle cooking which further brings that diversity into the area. I think that the restaurant industry plays such a huge part in making a place like Harlem a "melting pot."

Preston Clark: With many new residents moving to Harlem, the uptown dining scene is constantly growing. Since Harlem has many different restaurants making great food inspired by many cultures and ethnicities, it has become a destination neighborhood in NYC for food and wine.

LUCKYRICE: Jin Ramen is the first ramen shop in Harlem - what role do you hope the restaurant will have in Harlem's growing Asian food scene?

Richard: We have already seen a number of Asian restaurants opening up in the area this year. I do believe our success has shown those that have come after us that there is a market and demand for different cuisine than existing local restaurants. I hope more restaurants continue to come up here because, in the long run, more options = more patrons; and more patrons = more success to go around.

Mark: Our regulars always say to me that they love our homestyle, unpretentious food. Jin's literal meaning - "the way to treat one another" - is our motto and we and our partners always lend a helping hand when it comes to natural disasters such as Hurricane Sandy and the typhoon in the Philippines, where my parents are from. I hope it reflects with our food and our service.

Preston: It is my hope that other restaurants are able to follow Jin Ramen's lead in adding great food to a neighborhood already rich in history and culture.

LUCKYRICE: What do you hope guests will take away from your collaboration?

Richard: I hope those who rarely make it past 86th or 96th streets will really start considering a trek to Harlem to check out all the great restaurants and communities that have been growing and continue to grow. There's nothing to be afraid of up here.

Mark: With so many restaurants participating in this amazing event, I hope this can shine a light on what a great neighborhood Harlem is and more people will come and experience the great food and culture Harlem has to offer.

Preston: I hope guests leave with the impression that there is great food everywhere in NYC and a trip across 110th street to dine is a must.

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