Marcus Samuelsson

Chef, Author

New York

A childhood spent cooking with his grandmother fostered Marcus Samuelsson’s love of fresh, local food. Originally from Ethiopia, Samuelsson grew up in Sweden and studied at the Culinary Institute in Gothenburg before apprenticing at restaurants in Switzerland and France. At 23, he landed in New York and was promoted to executive chef at the acclaimed Aquavit within one year. Following a 1999 Rising Star Chef award from the James Beard Foundation, Samuelsson broadened the scope of his work, penning multiple books — including the award-winning The Soul of New Cuisine and his new memoir Yes, Chef — in addition to hosting television cooking shows Inner Chef and Urban Cuisine. The Top Chef Master winner also stays busy with his Scandinavian-meets-soul-food Harlem restaurant Red Rooster, which opened in 2010.

  • On January 9, 2013
    Jordan Lawson is now following Marcus Samuelsson
  • On January 9, 2013
  • On November 7, 2012
    Marcus Samuelsson answered the question: Marcus Samuelsson

    What are Marcus Samuelsson’s favorite Italian restaurants?

    I dig what Roberta’s is doing in Bushwick, and I love Scarpetta because it’s a blend between modern and American Italian. And what Mario Batali created at Lupa is that feeling of wanting to go back. It’s not that it has to be so authentic, but it does have to be right. And Mario delivers that.
  • On November 7, 2012
    Marcus Samuelsson answered the question: Marcus Samuelsson

    Where does Marcus Samuelsson go for brunch in New York?

    I go to Balthazar, especially because I have a lot of European friends. It’s not just the food; it’s the total New York experience. For me, you walk in and you don’t want to leave. That’s one of those things I feel we’ve created and works so well at Red Rooster, because I don’t want to leave my own restaurant. What’s in the air is key, and re-creating that many times is an incredible proposition. They do that at Odeon or Pastis, too. But there’s something about just going in to Balthazar and having a New York moment.
  • On November 7, 2012
    Marcus Samuelsson answered the question: Marcus Samuelsson

    What are Marcus Samuelsson’s favorite New York Italian restaurants?

    I dig what Roberta’s is doing in Bushwick, and I love Scarpetta because it’s a blend between modern and American Italian. And what Mario Batali created at Lupa is that feeling of wanting to go back. It’s not that it has to be so authentic, but it does have to be right. And Mario delivers that.
  • On November 7, 2012
    Marcus Samuelsson answered the question: Marcus Samuelsson

    What are Marcus Samuelsson’s favorite things to do in New York?

    There’s a jazz place called La Scat [449 L.A. on Lenox Avenue in Harlem]. You can go in on a jam session on a Sunday and have no idea who’s going to show up. You drink bad sangria, and you’re just sitting in someone’s living room, essentially. It’s so close I can’t even describe it. I also love walking through Bushwick [in Brooklyn] because creatively it teaches me a lot. There’s still craftsmanship in Bushwick, there’s still artistry. Bushwick is on the cusp. There’s a lot of history to see, and when you walk around on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, you see the steelworkers and the craftsmen in their open garages. Then I walk down to Roberta’s restaurant before checking out a vintage shop. That’s New York. That’s why I love it. Nothing compares.
  • On November 7, 2012
    Marcus Samuelsson answered the question: Marcus Samuelsson

    What are Marcus Samuelsson’s favorite New York activities?

    There’s a jazz place called La Scat [449 L.A. on Lenox Avenue in Harlem]. You can go in on a jam session on a Sunday and have no idea who’s going to show up. You drink bad sangria, and you’re just sitting in someone’s living room, essentially. It’s so close I can’t even describe it. I also love walking through Bushwick [in Brooklyn] because creatively it teaches me a lot. There’s still craftsmanship in Bushwick, there’s still artistry. Bushwick is on the cusp. There’s a lot of history to see, and when you walk around on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, you see the steelworkers and the craftsmen in their open garages. Then I walk down to Roberta’s restaurant before checking out a vintage shop. That’s New York. That’s why I love it. Nothing compares.
  • On November 7, 2012
    Marcus Samuelsson answered the question: Marcus Samuelsson

    What is Marcus Samuelsson’s favorite New York bar?

    Angel’s Share in the East Village. You walk through a pretty bad Asian restaurant to get there, but then you sit down and there’s Japanese cacti in the drinks. It’s timeless. I know it’s not the newest, but for me, it’s just right.
  • On November 7, 2012
    Marcus Samuelsson answered the question: Marcus Samuelsson

    What are Marcus Samuelsson’s favorite Italian restaurants in New York?

    I dig what Roberta’s is doing in Bushwick, and I love Scarpetta because it’s a blend between modern and American Italian. And what Mario Batali created at Lupa is that feeling of wanting to go back. It’s not that it has to be so authentic, but it does have to be right. And Mario delivers that.
  • On November 7, 2012
    Marcus Samuelsson answered the question: Marcus Samuelsson

    What are Marcus Samuelsson’s favorite New York brunch spots?

    I go to Balthazar, especially because I have a lot of European friends. It’s not just the food; it’s the total New York experience. For me, you walk in and you don’t want to leave. That’s one of those things I feel we’ve created and works so well at Red Rooster, because I don’t want to leave my own restaurant. What’s in the air is key, and re-creating that many times is an incredible proposition. They do that at Odeon or Pastis, too. But there’s something about just going in to Balthazar and having a New York moment.
  • On November 7, 2012
    Marcus Samuelsson answered the question: Marcus Samuelsson

    What is Marcus Samuelsson’s favorite time to visit New York?

    I love going walking in spring or late summer. Early fall is magic. If you stay around the city in late summer, people are so excited. People are coming back slowly from vacation. It’s like, “Whoa, let’s go.” Then somewhere around two weeks after Labor Day and the Jewish holidays, this city is just taking off. It goes straight into the holidays, and that’s that. Nothing beats it.
  • On November 7, 2012
    Marcus Samuelsson answered the question: Marcus Samuelsson

    What are Marcus Samuelsson’s favorite things to do in New York?

    There’s a jazz place called La Scat [449 L.A. on Lenox Avenue in Harlem]. You can go in on a jam session on a Sunday and have no idea who’s going to show up. You drink bad sangria, and you’re just sitting in someone’s living room, essentially. It’s so close I can’t even describe it. I also love walking through Bushwick [in Brooklyn] because creatively it teaches me a lot. There’s still craftsmanship in Bushwick, there’s still artistry. Bushwick is on the cusp. There’s a lot of history to see, and when you walk around on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, you see the steelworkers and the craftsmen in their open garages. Then I walk down to Roberta’s restaurant before checking out a vintage shop. That’s New York. That’s why I love it. Nothing compares.
  • On November 7, 2012
    Marcus Samuelsson answered the question: Marcus Samuelsson

    What is Marcus Samuelsson’s travel ritual?

    Because I work most of the time on the plane, I have this ritual — I have a glass of wine, I work and then I sleep the rest of the flight. I can sleep six hours and be good. That’s how you beat the jet lag. Plus, I always have music with me. A lot of old-school music or very new music. I listen to Little Dragon, which is a Swedish band I really love right now, or Ethiopian AddisZefen, old Sam Cooke or old David Bowie. There should be heavy and light parts to flying, or else it’s not a good flight.
  • On November 7, 2012
    Marcus Samuelsson answered the question: Marcus Samuelsson

    What are Marcus Samuelsson’s favorite airlines?

    Full disclosure: I work a lot with American Airlines, so they take care of me pretty nicely. But there are many great airlines. When you’re in Asia, Singapore Airlines, Japan Airlines and Emirates are all amazing. It’s the taste of the food. I love airlines where you can tell where you’re going by the food, and that’s something I work on with American Airlines — keeping the food American. I love that because you start learning about the nation before you get there.
  • On November 7, 2012
    Marcus Samuelsson answered the question: Marcus Samuelsson

    What does Marcus Samuelsson like to wear when traveling?

    A couple of weeks ago, I traveled and noticed somebody put on pajamas. I said I would never be that guy. Then two weeks later, I was crossing the Atlantic and I was so beat after working that I went up to the stewardess and asked for pajamas. I just became that guy and laughed at myself. But generally, if I go cross Atlantic, I always wear a pair of comfortable sneaks and a pair of very soft jeans, like Paper Denim & Cloth or old-school Levi’s. I wear a velour shirt, or I have an old grandpa cardigan with me because I get cold. I always have a good vintage or homemade bag, like an old saxophone bag that one of my good friends gave me. It’s a sick bag — I wear that everywhere.