Chef Marcus Samuelsson and veteran event marketer Herb Karlitz launched the first Harlem EatUp!, a three-day food festival, with the support of President Bill Clinton and Mayor Bill de Blazio in 2015. This year’s festival will be held at Morningside Park from May 19 through 22nd. Bobby Flay, Emeril Lagasse, and Daniel Boulud will team up with chefs from local restaurants to cook at local food hot spots. Bill Clinton again serves as the event ambassador; national sponsors include the Bordeaux Wine Council, Aetna, and USA Today. This years beneficiaries include Citymeals on Wheels, Harlem Park to Park, and Historic Harlem Parks.
Karlitz & Company
Herb owns and runs Karlitz & Company, a full service “lifestyle and entertainment” marketing firm, which creates unique experiences to build customer loyalty for clients. “We do ski clinics with Lindsey Vonn and golf clinics with Hank Haney, who is Tiger Woods’s former coach,” Karlitz says. “In marketing-speak it’s retention,” he explains. Karlitz recently produced a John Legend concert for a client, attended only by their best customers.
He’s also an entertainment lawyer who rose through the ranks of the worldwide public relations firm Burson-Marsteller to create and lead its Entertainment & Event Marketing division. There he created concert events for everyone from Frank Sinatra and The Beach Boys to Bon Jovi and Stevie Wonder.
Karlitz loves food and wine, and 75% of his company’s business is producing culinary events with celebrity chefs, who are his friends. “I have found a way to make my passions and interests, which are food, wine and cooking, into my business.” His parents owned a restaurant and that’s where he developed a love for all things gastronomic.
The Food Network
This passion also led him to regard chefs as professionals whose job is to entertain and make people happy, similar to musicians and actors. Karlitz likes to say that he was working with “celebrity chefs” back when they were just called cooks. “We developed this niche of working with and creating celebrity chefs before they were celebrity chefs,” he says. Karlitz was involved in one of the first-ever food and wine festivals where, he says, nobody knew who Emeril Lagasse was. “He was just starting on the Food Network. And we had about 35 major chefs who were favorites of ours, but nobody really knew, like Charlie Trotter from Chicago, and other now-famous chefs.”
Chef Masaharu Morimoto
Karlitz feels that a chef becoming famous by appearing on television and commanding huge appearance fees is good for the culinary world. “They’re able to get people interested in cooking and not see it as going back to school, which is what I think Emeril paved the way for.” In the past, there was Julia Child, but today there are many personalities thanks to the Food Network.
And yes, Karlitz says he is not too intimidated to cook for his celebrity chef pals at his home. When Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto visited, he decided to whip up short ribs. But Karlitz does know where to draw the line. “One thing I stayed away from was sushi,” he admits.