-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.
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!