Marcus Samuelsson has become a familiar face throughout the nation and world, winning the second season of Bravo! TV’s Top Chef Masters, serving President Barack Obama and guests at his administration’s first state dinner at The White House, and receiving more accolades than many chefs earn in a lifetime at the young age of 37. Samuelsson began his career as executive chef of Aquavit, a classic Scandinavian restaurant, later becoming the visionary behind Chicago’s C-House. In 2007 he partnered with Macy’s to open up Marc Burger in Chicago and Orange County, Calif. He opened the acclaimed Red Rooster in Harlem, N.Y., in 2010. Samuelsson is the author of New American Table, and recently partnered with Chefs Chris Cosentino and Aarón Sánchez and Deckers Outdoor Corp to launch Mozo Signature Chef Shoes, a line of stylish and slip-proof chef shoes for commercial kitchen work.
FE&S: What are some of your favorite dishes to cook and/or eat?
Marcus Samuelsson: I love to cook Ethiopian doro wat at home with my wife. It’s a process that takes hours and it’s very labor intensive but the end result makes it all worth it, especially sitting down together and eating it up with our hands.
FE&S: What aspect of your career gives you the greatest sense of accomplishment?
Marcus Samuelsson: Opening Red Rooster and hiring from within the community.
FE&S: If you were not working in foodservice, what would you be doing?
Marcus Samuelsson: Either a soccer player or an artist.
FE&S: What type of charitable activities are you involved in?
Marcus Samuelsson: Ones that focus on global food issues such as hunger and nutrition. C-CAP is an organization that I’ve worked with for years and they work a lot to help inner city teens gain opportunities in the food service industry.
FE&S: Any interesting hobbies?
Marcus Samuelsson: I play soccer every weekend with a team of Swedish expats. I also love to vintage shop and paint.
FE&S: What’s the best advice anyone ever gave you?
Marcus Samuelsson: Stay curious.
FE&S: What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned in the foodservice industry?
Marcus Samuelsson: To remain humble and a team player.
FE&S: Finish this sentence: Nobody knows...
Marcus Samuelsson: ...that my guilty pleasure food, especially after coming from a long day or trip, is General Tso’s Chicken from my local Chinese takeout spot.
Click here to read part one of the interview with Marcus Samuelsson.