Marcus Samuelsson was born into an eclectic culinary existence. Born in Ethiopia, he grew up in Sweden, cooking from its abundant local pantry at a young age alongside his grandmother, a professional chef. After graduating from the Culinary Institute in Gothenburg, Sweden, Samuelsson apprenticed in Switzerland, Austria, and France before finally coming to the United States—and bringing an already well traveled palate with him.
In 1995, he was hired as the executive chef at New York’s Aquavit, earning it three stars from The New York Times in just three months. Four years later, he was James Beard’s “Rising Star Chef,” and in 2003 the “Best Chef, New York City.” As plaudits came in, Samuelsson evolved from the wunderkind of Scandinavian cuisine (at a time when “Nordic” didn’t carry nearly as much weight) to exploring his roots. Again, his work didn’t go unrecognized. The Soul of a New Cuisine: A Discovery of the Foods and Flavors of Africa received a James Beard Award for “Best International Cookbook” in 2007.
Since then Samuelsson has rocketed to the forefront of national and international culinary scene. He co-founded Townhouse Restaurant Group and wrote Aquavit and the New Scandinavian Cuisine, En Smakresa med Marcus Samuelsson, New American Table, and his memoir Yes, Chef. He’s appeared in myriad television shows, hosting “The Inner Chef with Marcus Samulesson” and judging for Bravo’s “Top Chef.” Most recently, he founded FoodRepublic.com and opened Red Rooster in Harlem and its sister speakeasy Ginny’s Supper Club. Samuelsson is an ambassador for the U.S. Fund for UNICEF; he also is a StarChefs.com Advisory Board member and serves on the board of directors of Careers through Culinary Arts Program.