Marcus Samuelsson announced today the creation of an annual three-day festival in Harlem, launching in May 2015. Harlem EatUp! will celebrate the food, culture and spirit of the neighborhood and represent the renewed spirit of Harlem while paying homage to its roots. Assisting Samuelsson is Karlitz & Company, the New York-based agency and event producer. Net proceeds from the festival's ticket sales will benefit both Citymeals-On-Wheels and the community improvement association Harlem Park-to-Park.

Former United States President Bill Clinton is an Honorary Chair of the inaugural festival, which will take place over the weekend of May 15-17, 2015. Clinton – whose personal office and Foundation is located in Harlem – was on hand at this afternoon’s press conference at Red Rooster Harlem. Calling this "a great day for our city," Clinton spoke of the work of his Foundation, which works to create economic opportunity and growth and improve global health and wellness. The 42nd President, one of the neighborhood's most ardent champions, cited a vast decrease in Harlem’s unemployment rate during his eight years in the White House. He also incited the laugh of the day when he ruefully recalled a time when he was taller than New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who earlier called Harlem "one of the quintessential New York City neighborhoods."

Samuelsson mentioned that the festival will include events in the fields of music, literature, sports and food. Fellow chefs Aarón Sánchez, Daniel Boulud and Jonathan Waxman were on hand at the press conference to pledge their support. Crizette Woods – manager of Harlem’s famed Sylvia’s – was also present, just a few days after her restaurant’s street corner was named “Sylvia P. Woods Way” after her late mother.

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