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 was your first job in the foodservice industry?
Marcus Samuelsson: During the summer as a young teen, I would take a boat and sell bread to people vacationing on their boats in Smögen.
FE&S: You’re an artistic person, how do you view the intersection of food and art?
Marcus Samuelsson: It’s always about creating a conversation and having people experience your food or art in new ways.
FE&S: What is the most important piece(s) of equipment and/or supplies in your kitchen?
Marcus Samuelsson: A good knife is always going to be a chef’s most important tool.
FE&S: What are must-haves for every kitchen?
Marcus Samuelsson: A good variety of spices so you can always build new flavor combinations.
FE&S: What keeps you working in the food industry?
Marcus Samuelsson: My drive and passion for food and, today, the ability to help improve the community I live and work in.
FE&S: Who was the person that influenced your career most?
FE&S: Is there someone or some company in the foodservice industry that you admire most?
Marcus Samuelsson: The line cooks and people behind the scenes who have the intensity to work hard, no matter how many hours they work or how hot it gets in the kitchen.
FE&S: How would you describe your cooking style? What influenced your style?
Marcus Samuelsson: Every dish I make is a representation of my experiences — my childhood, my travels and reconnecting with my Ethiopian roots.