Tag Archives: Mintons’ Playhouse

Harlem Students in Teen Battle Chef Competition

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Harlem Students Face Off in Teen Battle Chef Competition

Twelve Harlem students who have mastered an eight-week culinary program will put their cooking skills to the test when they face off in Teen Battle Chef Live.

Teen Battle Chef Live is the culmination of an intensive program aimed at preventing obesity and diabetes. Students from Democracy Prep, a Harlem charter school, and The Harlem Dream Center, an afterschool program, will show off the techniques they learned that are needed to prepare delicious and nutritious food through healthy cooking. Two teams of students will complete a designated recipe that reflects the healthy, multi-ethnic meals and sophisticated culinary techniques they learned during the program.

New York City First Lady Chirlane McCray will deliver opening remarks, with Chef Alexander Smalls, Food Network personality Ellie Krieger and Izabela Wojcik, Director of House Programming of the James Beard Foundation serving as judges.

The event is sponsored by EmblemHealth and the Metro-Manhattan Chapter of the Links, Inc. The event is open to the public and free to attend.

WHEN:  Thursday, June 12, 2014

6 p.m. | Reception

7 – 8 p.m. | Competition

WHERE: Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture

Langston Hughes Auditorium

515 Malcolm X Boulevard, New York, NY

(NW corner of West 135th Street and Malcolm X Boulevard) 

About The Metro-Manhattan Chapter, of the Links, Inc.

The Metro-Manhattan Chapter of The Links, Incorporated established in the Harlem community in 1988, is a proud addition to a National organization established in 1946.  The Chapter’s express mission is to serve the Greater Harlem community.  The chapter’s hard work has established a reputation at the local and national level for effective programming through its signature Young Achiever’s program and other equally impactful initiatives that have impacted Harlem institutions such as the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Harlem Hospital, the Studio Museum in Harlem, Thurgood Marshall Academy, and countless men, women and children in Harlem and around the world.

Tuesdays & Wednesdays at Mintons in Harlem – May 27 & 28

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Vocalist and chekere player Eladio “Don Pancho” Terry, one of the most revered figures of AfroCuban folkoric and traditional music, and the patriarch of the Terry family, will be reunited in concert with his sons, jazz saxophonist YOSVANY TERRY and bassist YUNIOR TERRY. Together they create a journey through Cuba’s musical history — from AfroCuban folklore to the charanga music of Cuba’s “golden age” of the 1940s to cutting-edge Latin jazz.

Musicians
Eliado “Don Pacho” Terry: Vocals & Chekere; Yosvany Terry: Saxophones & Chekere; Yunior Terry:Bass; Osmany Paredes: Piano; Javier Porta: Flute; Lidia Cabrera: Vocals.

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The newly refurbished, historical Minton’s Playhouse is hosting the JC Hopkins Biggish Band featuringQueen Esther for a residency of Wednesday gigs starting on May 7th. Grammy nominated JC Hopkins and his ensemble of pedigreed jazz musicians swing hard and passionately through original material penned by Hopkins but also feature Bop tunes initially crafted at Minton’s back in the day by Thelonious Monk, Bird and Diz, expanded for a semi-big jazz conglomeration.

Queen Esther, with sass and finesse fronts the band, with her evocative voice and massive range, interpreting new material as well as covering lesser-known songs from Billie Holiday’s canon. Each night is expected to be a real happening.

Doors open at 6:00pm.

Performances from 7pm-11pm.

Music charge: $10 at the bar, $20 at a table.

Dinner reservations are recommended.

Tuesdays & Wednesdays at Minton’sFood and Beverage: Bar Seating is $10 per person, table seating is $20 per person.

Gentlemen: Jackets are recommended.

FOR MORE DETAILS: Tuesdays & Wednesdays at Minton’s – May 27 & 28.

Sunday Jazz Corner With Fats Waller

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King of the stride, Fats Waller was a colorful comedic personality and jazz legend in the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s.  Waller was an influential pianist, composer, singer and comedic entertainer, whose innovations to the Harlem stride style laid the groundwork for modern jazz piano.  His best-known compositions, Ain’t Misbehavin’ and Honeysuckle Rose were inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame posthumously, in 1984 and 1999.

Fats Waller (Thomas Wright Waller), was born in New York City in 1904.  He started playing piano when he was six and by the age of fourteen he was playing the organ at Harlem’s Lincoln Theater.  Within twelve months he had written his first rag (ragtime) song.

By the age of fifteen he became a professional pianist, overcoming opposition from his clergyman father, working in cabarets and theaters.  Waller went on to become one of the most popular performers of his era, finding critical and commercial success in his homeland and in Europe.  He was also a prolific songwriter and many songs he wrote or co-wrote are still popular, such as “Honeysuckle Rose”, “Ain’t Misbehavin” and “Squeeze Me”.

He enjoyed success touring the United Kingdom and Ireland in the 1930s.  He appeared in one of the first BBC television broadcasts.  While in Britain, Waller also recorded a number of songs for EMI.  He appeared in several feature films and short subject films, most notably Stormy Weather  which you can view a video clip of below.  It was released in 1943 just months before his death.

Multi-talented Waller performed Bach organ pieces for small groups on occasion.  Waller influenced many pre-bop jazz pianists; Count Basie and Erroll Garner have both reanimated his hit songs (notably, “Ain’t Misbehavin'”).  In addition to his playing, Waller was known for his many quips during his performances.

Between 1926 and the end of 1927, Waller recorded a series of pipe organ solo records.  These represent the first time syncopated jazz compositions were ever performed on a full-sized church organ.

His final recording session was with an interracial group in Detroit, Michigan in 1943, that included trumpeter Don Hirleman.  Waller was returning to New York City from Los Angeles, after the smash success of Stormy Weather, and after a successful engagement at the Zanzibar Room, during which he had fallen ill.  He contracted pneumonia on a cross-country train trip near Kansas City, Missouri, where he died on December 15, 1943.  Coincidentally, as the train with the body of Waller stopped in Kansas City, so stopped a train with his dear friend Louis Armstrong on board.  Coincidence or providential?

More than 4,000 people attended his funeral in Harlem at the Abyssinian Baptist Church.  Dr. Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., delivered the eulogy, and said that Fats Waller “always played to a packed house.”

I highly recommend FATS WALLER “compilation” on iTunes.
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See below 2 Videos by Fats Waller.

Ain’t Misbehavin’ – Stormy Weather (1943) – FATS WALLER

I’m gonna sit right down and write myself a letter (1935) – FATS WALLER

The Cecil Restaurant in Harlem (Review)

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The Cecil Restaurant in Harlem

We recently dined at Harlem’s newest upscale restaurant The Cecil. It was a night to remember.  And we look forward to our next visit.

The Cecil was created by New York businessman Richard Parsons and chef Alexander Smalls.  It is “New York City’s first Afro-Asian-American brasserie…Inspired by the travels, exploration and study of the African Diaspora of Chef Smalls.  The Cecil will offer a global adventure in tastes and flavors as diverse and dynamic as the community in which the restaurant resides. Its goal is to connect communities through food, comfort and hospitality.”

Alexander Smalls of Cafe Beulah fame is in charge of the food here and at Minton’s which is just next door and will be opening this month.  Joseph Johnson, known as Chef JJ, is in the kitchen.  And Jenny Lee is the pastry chef.

The Cecil is in lower central Harlem, a few blocks north from the 2/3 train, the Harlem Meer in Central Park, and adjacent to Jazz club Minton’s, formerly known as Mintons’ Playhouse, which is in the National Register of Historic Places.

Our party of four entered through the main door.   The receptionists to our right greeted us warmly and whisked us passed tables along a long window bank to the right and a large bar area to the left into a beautiful, high ceilinged, spacious room – completely unexpected and a refreshing surprise.

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The Cecil – Press Release

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We were fortunate enough to be seated at the chef’s table which is a wonderful booth located such that we could take in the comings and goings of staff and diners all evening long.

The service was excellent and attentive from beginning to end.   This was no doubt a tribute to Beatrice, the Director of Operations, who has known one of our fellow diners for many years, and who spent time with us throughout the night.

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We started our meal with several wonderful cocktails made by bartenders whose pedigree includes one of the city’s best bars 67 Orange, where making fine drinks is an art form.

We were then presented with an assortment of appetizers.  The Hand-Made Bread Basket was tasty and included several dipping sauces that were smooth and rich.  The Collard Green Salad and the Spinach and Black Lentil Salad were fresh, crisp and very well seasoned.  The Afro / Asian / American Oxtail Dumplings were nestled in a smooth sauce with a hint of curry and were mouth-watering.  The Broiled Giant Spicy Prawns were fiery with a Piri Piri Sauce resting on a flavorful Yam Flapjack.  And the Spicy Crispy Ginger Squid was also good paired with Okra and accompanied by a Sweet Chili Peanut Sauce.  The appetizers  were plentiful and a delicious preview of the main courses to come.

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Our main courses consisted of the very flavorful Rice and Vegetable Wok Bar with Sweet Brown Rice and Wok Prawns, Moist Gullah Jumbo Shrimp Burger, perfectly cooked Grilled Beef Petite Tenderloin and delicious Black Benne Seed Ahi Tuna.  Conversation at our table stopped as we enjoyed every bite of our meals.  Difficult as it was to share, we all tried a little of each others’ meals.  The steak was especially memorable – large, lean, grilled and savory.  The Ahi Tuna was PERFECT.  Nice sized pieces cooked rare with Bok Choy, Coriander Yusu, Curry Crunch along with Chinese Sausages.  Really unique and worth trying.  Also highly recommended by Alexander Smalls himself was the Cinnamon Scented Fried Guinea Hen.  We will have to try this on our next visit.

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Black Benne Seed Ahi Tuna

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Our meal was topped off with a variety of warm and cold treats, one of which was a rice pudding creme brûlée accompanied with lycgee ice cream.  Amazing.

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Rice Pudding Creme Brûlée

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During our stay our meal was punctuated by visits from Alex and Beatrice, as well as our wonderful server, all of whom helped us navigate the richness of the experience that is Cecil’s.

The crowd was cosmopolitan and well dressed.  The Saturday night that we were there, Melissa Harris-Perry and Joy-Ann Reid were sitting in the bar / lounge area, and the following evening, Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon stopped by for dinner.

The decor consists of dark tones and leathers with mesh textures.  The entrance lounge and bar area are separate from the main dining room  – we really liked the layout.  At night with the lighting, artwork and grand scale of everything, this really comes into full effect.  The space is airy, has a wide variety of seating options, soaring ceilings, and floor to ceiling windows with just the right kind of blinds (almost appeared as a mesh like material from where we were sitting) to keep things private while not closing you in.  Their artwork is very interesting, big in scale yet not busy or overcrowded.  Better to have a few select pieces of art than many mediocre ones. One of our favorites is a sculpture of sorts which is the centerpiece of the bar, and which is really not to be missed.  The light fixtures are very interesting as well.  In particular the one below which is located in the entrance.

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Lighting in the entrance

The food is a collage of flavors from afrika and asia, so well blended that they will have you longing for another visit.

The Cecil
210 West 118th Street
New York, NY 10026
(212) 866-1262
thececilharlem.com  

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