Alexander Smalls

Chef Alexander Smalls

Alexander Smalls, James-Beard-Award-winning chef, author, and raconteur, was the visionary co-owner of renowned restaurants The Cecil and Minton's. Critically acclaimed and located in the heart of historic Harlem, Minton's — the birthplace of BeBop in the 1930s — harkened back to the Jazz Age, evoking a sexy supper club, with live music and serving Low Country cuisine inspired by Smalls' childhood. His award-winning restaurant, The Cecil, was NYC's first Afro-Asian-American restaurant and named Best New Restaurant in America by Esquire in 2014. A 2019 recipient of a James Beard Award for his cookbook, Between Harlem and Heaven, Smalls was recently bestowed the Creative Spirit Award from the Black Alumni of Pratt by the inimitable Ms. Cicely Tyson.


Over the past three decades, the chef and restaurateur has traveled the world studying the cooking techniques and foodways of the African diaspora. As the former chef-owner of renowned restaurants — including Café Beulah, Sweet Ophelia's, and Shoebox Café — Smalls has received great acclaim in the restaurant scene, including cooking at the James Beard House, being named one of Zagat's NYC Restaurant Power Players You Need to Know, and being honored with the Legacy Award in 2014 by the Amsterdam News, one of the oldest African American newspapers in the country.

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