Union Theological Seminary announces that Harlem culinary legend Alexander Smalls has joined the Board of Advisors of the Union Food Lab, a recently created food incubator and culinary training institute in Harlem. Smalls’ counsel will be particularly important as the Food Lab moves forward with plans to launch a Culinary Arts Certificate Program this fall.
Alexander Smalls has a legendary history of catering to New York City’s most discerning palates. Executive Chef and restaurateur at The Cecil and Minton’s, both in Harlem, Smalls has successfully introduced New Yorkers to his brand of new American cuisine, which he calls Southern Revival Cooking, made famous at his three highly regarded restaurants, Café Beulah, Sweet Ophelia’s and The Shoebox Café.
“At Union, we are charting a new course for enduring social change, and the Union Food Lab plays an instrumental role in advancing this mission in New York City,” said Serene Jones, president of Union Theological Seminary. “Alexander Smalls is a culinary master, and Union is honored to have him join the Food Lab’s advisory board. His valuable expertise will play a pivotal role in creating a fertile ground for culinary arts in Harlem and in providing residents with important skills that can lead to employment in the food industry.”
Union Food Lab is developing an unprecedented program that will offer Harlem residents culinary training and prepare them for jobs in Harlem’s thriving restaurant economy. Participants in the program will receive free training on fine dining and nutritional cooking techniques, as well as job placement assistance at the end of the program.
“The hospitality industry has become a place where people can build long lasting careers, and Harlem residents deserve an opportunity to gain the invaluable entry-level experience that can launch them on a successful path,” said Smalls. “The innovative Union Food Lab is making great strides in preparing residents for jobs in culinary fields, and I look forward to the extraordinary work we will do together.”
Author of the acclaimed memoir and cookbook, Grace the Table: Stories and Recipes from My Southern Revival, Smalls is a self-described social minister and staple on the New York City hospitality scene. He has appeared on a wide range of food and culinary platforms with guest appearances on national TV magazine and news programs. He also won a Grammy and a Tony award for his recording of Porgy & Bess with the Houston Grand Opera.“Alexander Smalls is a tremendous addition to the team that will guide the creation of the Culinary Arts Program at Union Food Lab,” said Richard Madonna, Vice President for Finance and Operations at Union and founder of the Union Food Lab. “Mr. Smalls will help to ensure that not only will the program be a success but that positive outcomes are achieved for the food lab trainees and the Harlem community (Source).”