The creator of Southern revival cooking, ALEXANDER SMALLS is the owner of Smalls & Co., a catering business with a clientele that includes celebrities such as Denzel Washington, Spike Lee, and Toni Morrison; and is the former owner of New York’s celebrated Cafe Beulah. A classically trained baritone, Smalls lives in New York City.


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Afro-Asian-American Cooking for Big Nights, Weeknights, and Every Day

Flatiron - February 6, 2018

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.

praise for between harlem and heaven

A 2019 James Beard Media Award Winner

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."―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



Stories and Recipes from My Southern Revival

Harlem Moon – November 2, 2004

An atmospheric memoir filled with marvelous tales about the joys of food, music, and life—seasoned with one hundred of Alexander Smalls’s celebrated world-class recipes.

In Grace the Table, the father of southern revival cooking serves up a delectable combination of memoir and cookbook as he recounts his life’s journey from his hometown of Spartanburg, South Carolina, to the cosmopolitan cities of Europe and into the homes and hearts of Manhattan’s socialites and celebrities.

With an unabashed passion for food and a buoyant personality, Smalls recollects his grandparents’ Low Country cooking, and the almost spiritual power of a panful of hot buttermilk biscuits with fresh butter and sorghum. “Food was wealth to us,” Smalls writes, “the kitchen was Fort Knox, and I felt rich just opening the refrigerator.” Leaving small-town South Carolina, Smalls would become a world-class opera singer, an odyssey that introduced a wealth of new tastes and led him to his ultimate calling: cooking. He feasted on Chinese takeout in New York, Steak au Poivre in Paris, Grilled Swordfish Rolls in Palermo—but everywhere he traveled, he carried with him the cuisine of the American South.

In this unique book, Smalls shares his stories, family photographs, and one hundred of his inspiring culinary creations—sumptuous feasts, perfect for long dinners with family and friends. Sweet Potato Waffles and Southern Fried Chicken, Stuffed Veal Chops and Seafood Puppies, Pan-Roasted Salmon and Chocolate Raspberry Bread Pudding…just six of the glorious treats invented during Smalls’s adventures. A memoir sprinkled with recipes that are a delicious blend of traditional fare and international flair, Grace the Table will remind you of home no matter where you come from.



“Alexander Smalls dances and sings and cooks his way through a brilliant and fascinating portrait of Southern comfort.”—Cicely Tyson


Jessica SpiveyS