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 November 7, 2012
    Marcus Samuelsson answered the question: Marcus Samuelsson

    What does Marcus Samuelsson always travel with?

    I always have a notebook with me and my iPhone so I can take pictures. I write down my impressions so I can process them at work. I always use it back at my work. I always talk about my journey — always.
  • On November 7, 2012
    Marcus Samuelsson answered the question: Marcus Samuelsson

    What are Marcus Samuelsson’s favorite hotels?

    My favorite hotel right now is Geejam in Port Antonio [Jamaica]. Geejam is an incredible, rural destination. I always try to go to places I haven’t been. Port Antonio is where the Jamaicans go, so that’s where you get the best jerk and watch the surfers. The Geejam hotel is built around music. There’s a music studio, and some incredible musicians have come down to play. It’s only, like, 10 rooms. It’s an experience — when you eat dinner in the lobby or in the restaurant, you’ll eat with other couples because they’re in the same routine as you. It’s like the Buena Vista Social Club in Jamaica.
  • On November 7, 2012
    Marcus Samuelsson answered the question: Marcus Samuelsson

    What are Marcus Samuelsson's favorite cities?

    It’s bad to say because I live there, but New York. You can’t compare it to any other city. I still discover new neighborhoods in New York, like Harlem. It’s not new, but it’s gone through a surge, just like Bushwick in Brooklyn. After 15 years, I’m still amazed to find new neighborhoods in New York that I fall in love with. This is the city that inspires me.
     
    And then I think my hometown Gothenburg [in Sweden]. Gothenburg used to be a blue-collar steel town, but it’s now the city where fashion and musicians are hip. It’s incredible to watch a town that you grew up in become an “it town.” Also where I’m from — Addis Ababa in Ethiopia — has this merging of possibilities. Yes, it’s difficult, but people are entrepreneurial in a way that people here are not. Here, we’re upset that unemployment is 8.4 or 8.7 percent, but in Ethiopia there’s 70 percent unemployment. What do you do then?