Alexander Smalls

Chef, Author, & Restauranteur

Alexander Smalls is James-Beard-Award-winning chef, author, Raconteur and the visionary co-owner of renowned restaurant, Alkebulan, the first African Dining Hall in the World located in Dubai. He is also former co-owner of the celebrated restaurant The Cecil and Minton’s Playhouse located in the heart of historic Harlem. His award-winning restaurant, The Cecil, NYC’s first Afro-Asian American restaurant, was named “Best New Restaurant in America” by Esquire in 2014 and Smalls was the 2019 recipient of a James Beard Award for his cookbook, “Between Harlem and Heaven.” 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 CafĂ© Beulah, Sweet Ophelia’s, and Shoebox Café— Smalls has received great acclaim in the restaurant scene, with guest appearances on Top Chef, The Chew, The Food Network, The Today Show, and Food & Wine magazine for his prominence as a culinary expert. Smalls has published three acclaimed cookbooks, with his first children’s book release slated in 2024 and “The Contemporary African Kitchen,” a cookbook by Phaidon Press in the fall of 2024.  In addition to his vast culinary success, Smalls is also a world-renowned opera singer and the winner of both a Grammy Award and Tony Award for the cast recording of Porgy and Bess with the Houston Grand Opera. Smalls received an honorary doctorate this spring from his alma mater Wofford College.