Sylvia Woods, the founder of one America’s finest soul foul restaurants has died at age of 86, after suffering for several years from the effects of Alzheimer’s disease. Her restaurant, Sylvia’s, was one of Harlem’s greatest business success stories and long became a local fixture meeting place for local celebrities and politicians both, such as Rep. Charles Rangel who celebrated his recent primary election success at the famed restaurant.

Sylvia also nationally sold her canned soul food in the connoisseur food sections of some finer grocery stores, where several of her wonderful products were personal favorites of mine. Among her fine products were her own specially seasoned black eyed peas, which made a wonderful addition to an authentic traditional Southern soul dinner of ham hocks and cornbread. This was a real dining treat, and a connoisseur version of what was once a traditional home cooking meal among some Southern African American households.

Hoppin’ John was another favorite that you need to try. It’s a delicious blend of tomatoes, spices and black eyed peas, that is a New Years tradition among many families.

Her own unique version of collard greens is a real favorite of mine as well. She really knew how to well season this mostly Southern vegetable treat. But, don’t miss out on her hush puppies mix, peach cobbler mix or her own Country Gravy mix, all excellent items.

Sylvia leaves behind one of America’s greatest restaurants, taking many favorites that might have been on the table of many African American families of moderate means, and turning these traditionally Southern dishes into wonderful connoisseur versions that brought her great fame as one of America’s greatest chefs.

President Obama as well as many other celebrities will no doubt continue to dine at this fine landmark restaurant among so many great New York restaurants.