Between Harlem and Heaven: Afro-Asian-American Cooking for Big Nights, Weeknights, and Every Day (Hardcover)
Winner of the James Beard Award for Best American Cookbook
“Between Harlem and Heaven presents a captivatingly original cuisine. Afro-Asian-American cooking is packed with unique and delicious layers of flavor. These stories and recipes lay praise to the immense influence the African Diaspora has had on global cuisine.”— Sean Brock
In two of the most renowned and historic venues in Harlem, Alexander Smalls and JJ Johnson created a unique take on the Afro-Asian-American flavor profile. Their foundation was a collective three decades of traveling the African diaspora, meeting and eating with chefs of color, and researching the wide reach of a truly global cuisine; their inspiration was how African, Asian, and African-American influences criss-crossed cuisines all around the world. They present here for the first time over 100 recipes that go beyond just one place, taking you, as noted by The New Yorker, “somewhere between Harlem and heaven.”
This book branches far beyond "soul food" to explore the melding of Asian, African, and American flavors. The Afro Asian flavor profile is a window into the intersection of the Asian diaspora and the African diaspora. An homage to this cultural culinary path and the grievances and triumphs along the way, Between Harlem and Heaven isn’t fusion, but a glimpse into a cuisine that made its way into the thick of Harlem's cultural renaissance.
JJ Johnson and Alexander Smalls bring these flavors and rich cultural history into your home kitchen with recipes for...
- Grilled Watermelon Salad with Lime Mango Dressing and Cornbread Croutons,
- Feijoada with Black Beans and Spicy Lamb Sausage,
- Creamy Macaroni and Cheese Casserole with Rosemary and Caramelized Shallots,
- Festive punches and flavorful easy sides, sauces, and marinades to incorporate into your everyday cooking life.
Complete with essays on the history of Minton’s Jazz Club, the melting pot that is Harlem, and the Afro-Asian flavor profile by bestselling coauthor Veronica Chambers, who just published the wildly successful Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson, this cookbook brings the rich history of the Harlem food scene back to the home cook.
“This is more than just a cookbook. Alexander and JJ take us on a culinary journey through space and time that started more than 400 years ago, on the shores of West Africa. Through inspiring recipes that have survived the Middle Passage to seamlessly embrace Asian influences, this book is a testimony to the fact that food transcends borders." — Chef Pierre Thiam
About the Author
Alexander Smalls is a restaurateur and co-owner of the celebrated Harlem jazz club Minton’s. As the former chef/owner of Café Beulah, Sweet Ophelia's, Shoebox Cafe, and The Cecil, Smalls has received great acclaim in the restaurant scene—including cooking at the James Beard House and being named one of Zagat’s 19 NYC Restaurant Power Players. His memoir and cookbook, Grace the Table, features recipes from his upbringing of Southern Revival cuisine. Smalls is also a world-renowned opera singer and the winner of both a Grammy and a Tony Award. He lives in Harlem, New York.
Joseph “JJ” Johnson is a James Beard-nominated chef. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Johnson went on to hone his skills in some of New York’s most esteemed kitchens, including Centro Vinoteca, Jane, Tribeca Grill, The Cecil, and Minton’s—and to cook in Ghana at the country’s leading boutique hotel, Villa Monticello. He was named one of Rolling Stone’s ten breakthrough rock star chefs in 2016, one of Zagat’s and Forbes’s 30 Under 30, as well as Chef of the Year by New York African Restaurant Week. He lives in Harlem, New York.
VERONICA CHAMBERS is the editor of the New York Times archival storytelling team, a new initiative devoted to publishing articles based on photographs recently rediscovered as the paper digitizes millions of images. She is the editor of The Meaning of Michelle, celebrating the former first lady, which was a Los Angeles Times bestseller and a Time Magazine Top Nonfiction of the year. Veronica has written several books as well, including Mama’s Girl, a critically acclaimed memoir, and she co-wrote Yes, Chef with Marcus Samuelsson and 32 Yolks with Eric Ripert.
WINNER OF THE JAMES BEARD AWARD: BEST AMERICAN COOKBOOK
“Between Harlem and Heaven presents a captivatingly original cuisine. Afro-Asian-American cooking is packed with unique and delicious layers of flavor. These stories and recipes lay praise to the immense influence the African Diaspora has had on global cuisine.”
— Sean Brock
“This is more than just a cookbook. Alexander and JJ take us on a culinary journey through space and time that started more than 400 years ago,on the shores of West Africa. Through inspiring recipes that have survived the Middle Passage to seamlessly embrace Asian influences, this book is a testimony to the fact that food transcends borders. Alexander Smalls and JJ Johnson have elevated the cuisines of West Africa and its diaspora without losing any of its essence. Afro-Asian cuisine is a new concept and it works beautifully!”
— Chef Pierre Thiam
"Between Harlem and Heaven is a celebration of food, culture, and the historic legacy of proud people unsung. This is the story of resilience and reverence, of people farming and cooking from one continent to the other, making delicious flavors in every pot. Alexander's culinary vision captures the essence, contribution, and influence of the African Diaspora, and is the result of his passionate, life-long adventure. There's no better place than the cradle of African American culture itself, between heaven and Harlem. This book is one good time of great dishes and interesting stories." — Cicely Tyson