An Evening with Alexander Smalls: Spartanburg Native, Renowned Chef, and Author
Spartanburg native Alexander Smalls—visionary New York chef and Grammy Award-winning opera star—will return to his hometown for a presentation about his career and his new book Tuesday, April 10 at 7 p.m at the headquarters of the Spartanburg County Public Libraries.
Smalls, considered the father of Southern Revival cooking, grew up on the Southside of Spartanburg in the 1950s and ‘60s. His new book, written with co-author JJ Johnson, is “Between Harlem and Heaven: Afro-Asian American Cooking for Big Nights, Weekends and Every Day.”
The event is sponsored by the Hub City Bookshop, the City of Spartanburg, Spartanburg School District 7, Spartanburg County Historical Association, the Southside Heritage Committee, JAMZ, the Spartanburg Public Libraries, and Lindsay Webster. Rhonda Rawlings of JAMZ will be the moderator. The event is free, and books will be available for sale at a 40 percent discount.
Smalls is a graduate of Spartanburg High School. A classically trained baritone, he toured professionally as an opera singer in his early career. As a member of the Houston Grand Opera, he performed in the George Gershwin opera “Porgy and Bess,” winning both a Grammy and a Tony award.
In 1994, Smalls launched his first restaurant, Café Beulah, in New York City, specializing in Southern Revival cooking that combines Gullah and international cuisines. In 1996, Smalls opened Sweet Ophelia's, a casual dining venue featuring late-night, live entertainment in New York City’s SoHo neighborhood. Later he opened The Shoebox Café, an upscale Southern bistro in New York City’s Grand Central Terminal. Currently he is co-owner of the Harlem jazz club Minton’s.
His previous memoir and cookbook, “Grace the Table,” features a forward by legendary jazz musician Wynton Marsalis.
Before his appearance at the Spartanburg Public Library, Smalls will meet with honorees of the SCHA Community Weavers Group. On the following day he will meet with students at Spartanburg High School and Jesse Boyd School.