The Seafood Queen of Harlem – Street Food Icons

The Seafood Queen of Harlem – Street Food Icons


-New Yorkers are the toughest
crowd in the world. You can’t be slipping
or half-stepping, not even a little bit. -Tami has the best fish,
shrimp and grits, all that stuff in all of Harlem. -And I ain’t even pay his ass
to say that. -No, because I’m — -I didn’t even pay his ass
to say that. Baby, I need a mac
and cheese bite. I want to slap the shit out
of somebody with the flavor. ♪♪ People care less about me,
long as them damn po’boys are good, them grits is creamy
and them shrimp are good, they could care less.
My name is Chef Tami. Everybody calls me
the Seafood Lady. I’m chef and owner of Harlem
Seafood Soul. We sell the best seafood
and soul food in New York, if you ask me. I’ve been operating
Harlem Seafood Soul for the last 3 years. As you can see, we operate
with a solar panel and a battery pack, Harlem’s first and only
eco-friendly restaurant grade
mobile kitchen. Where you from? -Belgium.
-Belgium? Welcome.
Bienvenue Harlem. If you want to really, really
taste the flavor of Harlem, my grandmother’s mac and cheese, my grandmother’s
shrimp and grits, you got to go over there.
-Okay. -We have a really simple menu,
po’boy sandwiches, fish tacos, mac and cheese bites,
shrimp and grits. Your life is going to be changed
by those shrimp and grits. My grandmother’s grits
ain’t no joke. We saute our shrimp
in a garlic butter. I’m going to make sure that
they’re cooked to perfection. These are our amazing grits. You will not find any lumps
in my grits, and then we take the shrimp,
and we just place them on top. We drizzle a little hot sauce
across there, and then you go to work. You want hot sauce? Here, let me put a couple
extra napkins because I know you’re going
to be licking your fingers. -[ Laughs ] Thank you.
-Harlem Seafood Soul is bringing back the old Harlem
that I grew up in, traditions and that feel where people
looked out for one another. This village of Harlem is rich,
I mean, rich and overflowing with history. You have the Theresa Hotel here. We have Ray Charles,
Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross, all of the greats in this world
stay in the Theresa Hotel. They all performed back in
the day at the Alhambra Ballroom over here,
and then, of course, right behind me you have
the iconic Apollo Theater. I can feel my ancestors here
on this corner. I’m well-known
in this community, and people know
I’m not to be fucked with. -Tami means, like,
the world to Harlem. You kidding me? Do you see another truck
like that? -She’s well-connected
in the community. She knows all of
the main people. -Good to see you.
-I love your food. That’s all I wanted to say. -Thank you, thank you,
thank you. I wake up normally between
2:30 and 3:00 a.m. We get the cart on the street. Well, right now, it’s 5:51,
and I’m a little bit lee. There’s a couple things
that I do need to pick up. It takes a lot of discipline
to do this. You can’t be on 125th Street, running a business
and be half sleep. They don’t have my red aprons. That’s my favorite color,
and red makes people hungry. Actually, this will work,
and in about 30 minutes, I’m going to have some coffee
and some protein. Good weed helps, sativa. I smoke a lot of sativa. I have to have a up weed. We’re here. This is the iconic 125th Street. Born and raised right here
in Harlem, USA. I actually grew up a few blocks
away on 129th Street. My hide-and-go-seek spot
when I was a little girl was right here in this church, in the crevice
of this little church. Nobody could ever
find me there. I didn’t even look
for a location. I knew exactly
where I wanted to be. I wanted to be on the corner
of 7th Avenue and 125th Street. It was real important for me to be in the community
for which I grew up in. Growing up, I watched my mother,
her sisters, my aunts, my grandmothers
all in the kitchen cooking. Everybody had a special dish
that they made, and my grandmother,
she had me up on a milk crate stirring grits in her house
at the age of 6, 7 years old. When I think back,
I can just smile. I think I honor my grandmother
and my aunts every day using the techniques
that were handed down to me as a little girl,
as I was growing up, and seeing people today
enjoy it. ♪♪ Are you surprised by that? You think I’m out here
selling grits that ain’t good. Okay. So, now, what you ordering? You got it. -The food is amazing. -This what made us
become great friends. She made me some shrimp
and grits, and I been stalking
her truck ever since. -The shrimp po’boy combo
is tasty. -My favorite is the mac
and cheese balls. I’m not supposed to have it,
but the hell with it. -And my daughter
loves her dearly. My daughter comes.
She’s 5 years old. As soon as she sees her,
she runs up to the truck. Now she just looks
for the red truck every day. She loves her. -You know, I don’t have no eggs,
but I got the fish and grits or the shrimp and grits.
Which one you want? -I want fish and chips.
-Fish and chips? You want French fries?
-Yeah. -You know you ain’t supposed to be eating
all that starch, right? -Not really.
-You know I know. I worked in health care
for many, many, many years, set behind a desk,
got fat, happy and miserable. I did not quit. I went through some health
care challenges of my own. Once I got better
and I got stronger, I was literally laying
in bed one morning. I heard about 500 eco-friendly
restaurant grade mobile kitchens hitting the streets of New York.
It was on the news that day. I sat up in bed, and I was like, “Wow,” and by the grace,
we were able to acquire one. I’d said I’d be vending
in Harlem, and the CEO of the company
that built these said to me, “We never had them slated
to go above 96th Street.” He did not believe that
the population above 96th Street would be receptive
to eco-friendly, and that kind of pissed me off
because my whole life, 96th Street has always
been the cutoff points between the have
and the have-nots. That made me
even more determined. I knew I had to bring something
to the table that nobody else
was doing around here. I think I’m probably the only
one on the streets of New York and all of the five boroughs
doing shrimp and grits. Seafood coupled
with the soul food, it really resonates
with the people of Harlem because it brings you
back to a time where people took pride in what
they served in this community. How you been? You taking care of yourself?
-Trying to, yeah. -I’ve known this lady
for 40-plus years or more. Back in the ’70s and the ’80s,
we ran these streets. Didn’t we, girl?
-Yes, we did. -And we had a ball doing it.
Now what they used to call us? Bat the Cat and Tee the Tiger.
-Yeah. -Bat the Cat
and Tee Tiger, yes. Listen, go over there
and get you something to eat. Tell Vivian I said give you
something to eat. -Okay.
-All right? -Love you.
-Love you, too. I come from that generation where black excellence
was expected of you. It wasn’t an option. The African-American,
the black community, there’s still a social
economic disadvantage for us. I think that if we all kept that
in our mind and at the forefront of our mind
for our children, our grandchildren to strive
for black excellence, I think that we can bridge
some of that gap. I don’t think that there’s
anything that could make me want to quit
doing something that I love. I’m a two-time cancer survivor. So therefore, challenges
that other people face, I look at them as details
that just need to be worked out. So I don’t stress over
the bullshit or the small stuff. I have overcome a lot of things, and cancer wasn’t
the worst of them. I overcame a crazy husband,
abusive. I overcame depression. I’ve raised my children
on my own. I’m like that blade of grass
that you see or that beautiful flower that pops through the concrete,
a crack in the concrete. You can pour concrete on me,
and still I rise. Thanks to Dr. Maya Angelou
for giving us that amazing poem, and each day, I look forward to
rising to do again what I love. That would be pretty much
what I would love people to say, that, “You know what?
That was a strong ass lady, and she cooked her ass off.” ♪♪ -I love my New Yorkers,
you heard? -Hey!
Where you from, baby? -Right here at St. Nick’s.
-All right. -Harlem, Harlem. -That’s right,
Harlem Center Court. Get it, girl.
There you go!

100 thoughts on “The Seafood Queen of Harlem – Street Food Icons

  1. It’s mad funny to me since I’m Italian and from NY that all of a sudden Harlem gets mad recognition… munchies and vice is a bunch of yuppies and gentiles who think they’re putting people onto shit.. Harlem BEEN POPPIN since the 20’s lmao and Harlem has always been the epicenter of culture… and people think Harlem is only “black people” but they’re wrong about that too… Harlem has crazy Italian roots as well… don’t get it twisted everybody, Harlem ain’t nothing new and Harlem been had shit on smash!

  2. Amazing video. I'm curious about something tho. Everytime I've had shrimp & grits or shrimp scampi pasta, they leave the tails on. I leave the tails on when it's a finger food but remove them when it's a dish you have to eat with a fork or spoon. So I'm curious why some dishes leave them on. I'll be sitting there putting my fingers into my food, fetching them out, pinching off the tails, throwing the shrimp back in, & then trying to find somewhere to put the tails because there's never anywhere to put the tails….all while sitting there thinking to myself…"There's no way the chef would've intended this process. I must be doing this wrong. Maybe you're just supposed to eat the tails? 😬Crunch 😬crunch.. 🤮..Nope. That's like eating toenails…🤔What the f*ck?..🤨…I'll just put them in this napkin🤐."

    Am I alone on this?

  3. great video and information thanks for your channel much love from Port Arthur Texas and Felicia Dependable Angel Services on YouTube channel

  4. 1 second in the game & I like this Queen. Such a big heart & a bright bodacious personality. The world needs more people like her bringing their gifts, nourishing & unifying the community.

  5. Tami is the godess of food I wish I could fly back today! Best food I've had in years! Keep it going Tami your the best! Tami I have colon cancer I will fight it and beat it because you are the best. Hugs to you.

  6. I had the pleasure of meeting her – EVERYTHING on the menu was amazing – she definitely can cook her ass off! I've been back 3 times since early this mth.

  7. Just left New York for my brithday on Tuesday. Had the taco and chowder, my niece and I meet the humble Queen and was blown away. Harlem thank you for a great memory. We will be back.

  8. I loved her personality; I just wish it wasn't so tied to color and the like. We can't seem to just talk to people without categories.

  9. I don't want no sea roaches or abominable food!😩 Our people hate God's laws smh🤦
    Leviticus 11:10 King James Version
    10 And all that have not fins and scales in the seas, and in the rivers, of all that move in the waters, and of any living thing which is in the waters, they shall be an abomination unto you:

    I love her ambition and energy but God first sister🤷

  10. Thats cold thats a cold piece👏👏 i gotta go see this lady one day and get some of that food i want her to slap the shit out of me wit some of that flavor !!!

  11. There used to be this fish place on 145st/ St.Nicholas Avenue(maybe it's still there🤷‍♂️);their fish was beer-battered,crispy,yet soft on the inside(the best I've ever had😋)

  12. I’m so Happy I spent 10 minutes out of my day to see this . She such a Inspiration and Beautifully gifted. Everyone is Happy when they eat ! Especially Good Food!!!!!

  13. If the chef is a black woman who speaks loud and with a lot of enthusiasm and energy then you know the food is gonna be good

  14. & at this moment in my personal life where I have been so close to throwing in the towel. To see her beat cancer twice and still have a beautiful soul and be so strong is all the motivation I need to get up tomorrow and choose to beat kidney failure and not let the machine beat me! God bless you!!!!!

  15. "She made me Some shrimp and Grits " and I have been Stalking her truck every since "👀🤣🤣 Next time I'm in Harlem me and my Daughter gonna get Some Shrimp and Grits❤❤

  16. I love the fact that you're down to earth by tour street talk, but still can show that you can speak intelligently as well. Let them know you can be "urban" or "suburban." 😂😂😂

  17. This lady needs to be speaking at schools. The way she speaks is just so inspirational.
    I forgot about the food. She gave an incredible history lesson. Well done.

  18. I can't live there because I'll be camping by your FOOD stand every day lol. That food show looks good. 🤫😁😁😁😁😁😁🤭🤭🤭

  19. This woman did everything and everything and then some survive cancer twice depression and sadness and ran the streets in Harlem with her friend back in the 70s and 80s when I was a kid back in those days so I think that one's own enough to be my mom but let's put it this way she serves good food to people. Who are hungry and she serves food to her best friend who was down and out for free that's love right there and she does it for the people British Shilling used to live that's her home no one can take that away from her I will say this now unto us African Americans it would be nice if we can all kind to one another stop acting ignorant and stupid and thinking about ourselves as a race you start thinking about helping one another as a people too many brothers imprisoned too many people without a job or home and children without education and enough of the race word called the n-word that should help and that should be the final nail to the coffin enough is enough God bless this woman her business and her heart and her soul what she's doing hopefully someday I will go up there and get myself a plate enjoy a good meal and say thank you I don't expect to get any thumbs up or any thousand likes I hope you have wonderful day🇺🇸👍❤

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