HBK Incubates was honored to host the Citi Market Challenge kick-off event for Harlem EatUp! on Tuesday, March 28. The event featured a high-stakes cook off between three up-and-coming Harlem restaurants — Belle Harlem, Harlem Pizza Co., and Tsion Cafe — judged by a panel of culinary experts from the neighborhood and beyond.
Expert judges included celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson, Jarobi White from A Tribe Called Quest, Maile Carpenter of Food Network Magazine, Melba Wilson of Melba’s Restaurant, Kysha Harris of Amsterdam News FOOD, and Carlos Swepson of BLVD Bistro. Bravo’s Bevy Smith was on hand to emcee. The incubator kitchen was packed with spectators and news crews from Amsterdam News FOOD and Fox 5.
Hot Bread Kitchen CEO and founder Jessamyn Waldman Rodriguez welcomed the group, sharing how events such as Harlem EatUp! and programs such as Citi’s Food Business Pathways are critical to entrepreneurs in Harlem.
“We are excited to have Harlem’s finest chefs and judges and participants here today,” Jessamyn said. “Thank you to Citi for your ongoing efforts to provide opportunities for the NYCHA entrepreneurs who help make Harlem’s business community grow and thrive.”
“Thank you to Harlem EatUp! for choosing to kick off this year’s event here with us at 115th and Park. We’re thrilled to help build excitement for an event that every year brings talented chefs and delicious food to our community.”
Marcus Samuelsson echoed her words, thanking Hot Bread Kitchen and HBK Incubates for our work supporting local entrepreneurs and connecting them to new opportunities.
The competition was fierce, but ultimately Tsion Cafe’s Injera Doro Ribs took home the gold. We’re looking forward to trying Tsion Cafe’s food again in just a few short weeks, and hope to see many of our HBK Incubates businesses at this year’s Harlem EatUp! as well. Tickets to the event are now available online.