Back in 2003, NY1’s Budd Mishkin asked Sylvia Woods the secret to her cooking. “Sylvia’s secret seasoning,” she said. “You want to know what that is, right? A little this and a little that and you mix it all together. But make sure a whole lot of love has to go in it. If you don’t have that, you have nothing at all.”
She did indeed have it all. The reigning Queen of Soul Food for 50 years, Ms. Woods presided over her namesake Harlem restaurant feeding dignitaries, tourists, and locals alike with recipes perfected over time and always served with a generous side of kindness and warmth.
With her passing last week at the age of 86, we lost a beloved icon. At Woods’ funeral held yesterday in Mount Vernon, NY where she lived, Rev. Al Sharpton said, “There ain’t no angle on Sylvia. It was her, her mama and God. And the reason we love her is she showed us what God can do.”
Woods was also eulogized by former president Bill Clinton at her wake held on Tuesday. The soul food icon will be buried on Saturday in Hemingway, S.C., the town of her birth.
Join theGrio as we look back at the life of the legendary restaurateur and Harlem’s sweetheart, Sylvia Woods. This timeline outlines some of the most important moments in her career as a caretaker of our community.
Suzanne Rust is a writer, lifestyle expert, on-air talent, and a native New Yorker. Follow her on Twitter at @SuzanneRust.