Samuelsson at the 2012 Göteborg Book Fair.
25 January 1971
Early life and education
Kassahun Tsegie was born in 1971 in Ethiopia. His father, Tsegie, is an Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church priest. His mother died in a tuberculosis epidemic when he was three years old. As detailed in Samuelsson's appearance on Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown he and his elder sister, Fantaye, were separated from their family during the turmoil of the Ethiopian Civil War, which began in 1974. Subsequently, the siblings were adopted by Ann Marie and Lennart Samuelsson, a homemaker and a geologist, respectively, who lived in Gothenburg, Sweden. The siblings' names were changed to Marcus and Linda Samuelsson. They also have an adopted sister, Anna Samuelsson. His biological father, Tsegie, the father of eight others (the chef's half-siblings) still resides in the Ethiopian village where Samuelsson was born.
After becoming interested in cooking through his maternal grandmother in Sweden, Samuelsson studied at the Culinary Institute in Göteborg (Gothenburg) where he was raised. He apprenticed in Switzerland and Austria, then came to the United States in 1994 as an apprentice at Restaurant Aquavit.
At 24, Samuelsson became executive chef of Aquavit, and soon after that became the youngest ever to receive a three-star restaurant review from The New York Times. In 2003 he was named "Best Chef: New York City" by the James Beard Foundation. The same year he started a second New York restaurant, Riingo, serving Japanese-influenced American food.
In addition to his recognition as a world-class chef, Samuelsson is an award-winning cookbook author with titles in both English and Swedish. His 2006 African-inspired cookbook The Soul of a New Cuisine received the prize "Best International Cookbook" by the James Beard Foundation. Other titles written by Samuelsson are Aquavit and the New Scandinavian Cuisine, En Smakresa ("A Journey of Flavour"), and Street Food.
Samuelsson is a Visiting Professor of International Culinary Science at the Umeå University School of Restaurant and Culinary Arts in Sweden. He had a television show, Inner Chef, which aired in 2005 on Discovery Home Channel and yet another program in 2008, Urban Cuisine on BET J (now Centric). His cooking combines international influences with traditional cuisines from Sweden to Japan and Africa.
On 24 November 2009, Samuelsson served as guest chef for the first state dinner of the Barack Obama presidency. The dinner, in honor of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, was served on the South Lawn and largely vegetarian. Samuelsson reportedly sought to combine sustainable and regional foods which reflect the best in American cuisine yet evoke the flavors of India. Harvesting fresh vegetables and herbs from the White House Garden, Samuelsson included red lentil soup, roasted potato dumplings, and green curry prawns on his menu. The tradition of guest chefs joining the White House chef for special events began during the Clinton administration.
Samuelsson is an advisor to The Institute of Culinary Education in New York City.
His restaurant, Red Rooster, opened in December 2010 in Harlem. In March 2011, Red Rooster hosted a fundraising dinner for the Democratic National Committee. President Obama attended the dinner. The $30,800-per-plate event raised $1.5 million.
In the fall of 2012, Samuelsson, together with Clarion Hotels, launched a restaurant concept called Kitchen & Table. The concept's first restaurant opened at Clarion Hotel Arlanda Airport and during 2013 and 2014 it will take place at all Clarion Hotels in Sweden and Norway.
In spring 2015, Samuelsson opened his second Harlem restaurant, Streetbird Rotisserie, a kitchenette with a menu inspired by cookouts focusing on fried and rotisserie chicken, and décor paying tribute to the hip-hop culture of Harlem. In 2015, Marcus partnered with the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club to open the restaurant Marcus' in the Bermuda hotel. The restaurant re-opened with a new menu and decor in March 2017. In late 2016, Samuelsson opened Marcus at MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Md. and developed the room-service menu for the hotel. In November 2017 he opened a new restaurant, Marcus B&P, on Halsey Street in Newark, New Jersey.
Samuelsson has been featured on television including on CNN, MSNBC's The Dylan Ratigan Show, as a judge on Top Chef, Iron Chef USA, Iron Chef America, Chopped, and frequent guest appearances on Today. He previously hosted his own television shows, The Inner Chef and Urban Cuisine. He also was a judge on the TV One show My Momma Throws Down.
In early 2010, he competed alongside 21 world-renowned chefs on Bravo's television series Top Chef Masters. Samuelsson won the competition, earning $115,000 for UNICEF's grassroots effort The Tap Project. In 2011, he was a contestant on the fourth season of The Next Iron Chef, competing against nine other chefs for the opportunity to be designated an "Iron Chef" and appear regularly on Iron Chef America. Samuelsson was eliminated in the fifth episode, finishing in sixth place.
After appearing consistently as a culinary judge on the Food Network show Chopped, Samuelsson competed in and won Chopped All Stars 2012: Judges Remix. He was awarded the grand prize of $50,000 for his charity, the Careers Through Culinary Arts Program. Samuelsson is a regular guest judge on Food Network shows Chopped, Chopped Junior, Beat Bobby Flay, Cooks vs. Cons, The Kitchen, and Star Plates.
In 2014, he made his debut as a judge on the second season of the American television series The Taste.
In 2016, Samuelsson began making occasional appearances in videos produced for BuzzFeed's Tasty video series, mostly providing food demonstrations as well as making a guest appearance in an episode of BuzzFeed's flagship food series Worth It in a segment filmed at Red Rooster, where his fried chicken was declared series creator Steven Lim's personal "Worth It winner". In August 2018, Samuelsson officially joined Tasty as executive chef-in-residence.
On April 22, 2019, Samuelsson appeared on Top Chef Canada Season 7, Episode 4 as a guest judge for a Nordic ingredients challenge.
No Passport Required
In July 2018, Samuelsson premiered a six-part series called No Passport Required on PBS. The series highlights and celebrates immigrant cultures and foods found in the United States. Samuelsson is both the host and executive producer of the series.  In 2019, PBS announced that the series was renewed for a second six-episode season.
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||6||July 10, 2018||August 14, 2018|
|2||6||December 13, 2019||February 17, 2020|
Season 1 (2018)
|Title||Original air date||U.S. viewers|
|1||1||"Detroit"||July 10, 2018||N/A|
|Chef Marcus explores the Middle Eastern community of Detroit.|
|2||2||"New Orleans"||July 1, 2018||N/A|
|Chef Marcus discovers how Vietnamese residents have influenced the city in delicious ways.|
|3||3||"Chicago"||July 24, 2018||N/A|
|Marcus visits the city's Mexican community to learn about its heritage and cuisine.|
|4||4||"Queens, NYC"||July 31, 2018||N/A|
|Samuelsson goes inside the Indo-Guyanese community to explore its roots and cuisine.|
|5||5||"Miami"||August 7, 2018||N/A|
|Chef Marcus explores the cuisine, culture and history of the city's Haitian community.|
|6||6||"D.C."||August 14, 2018||N/A|
|Marcus Samuelsson dines, dances and dishes with the Ethiopian community in the nation's capital.|
Season 2 (2019–20)
|Title ||Original air date ||U.S. viewers|
|7||1||"Seattle"||December 13, 2019||N/A|
|Chef Marcus explores the Filipino food and community in Seattle.|
|8||2||"Los Angeles"||January 20, 2020||N/A|
|He explores Armenian food and community in Los Angeles, the largest Armenian community in the world outside of Armenia.|
|9||3||"Houston"||January 27, 2020||N/A|
|Chef Marcus explores Nigerian food and community in Houston, Texas, the largest Nigerian community in the world outside of Nigeria.|
|10||4||"Philadelphia"||February 3, 2020||N/A|
|Marcus Samuelsson heads to Philadelphia, where he meets new friends and old, and learns more about the city’s Italian food scene|
|11||5||"Las Vegas"||February 10, 2020||N/A|
|Diverse Chinese food traditions in Las Vegas and chefs who are transforming their parents' cuisine.|
|12||6||"Boston"||February 17, 2020||N/A|
|The Brazilian, Portuguese, and Cape Verdean communities in Boston and the South Coast communities of Fall River and New Bedford are explored.|
Samuelsson has released cookbooks New American Table, The Soul of a New Cuisine, Marcus Off Duty,  and The Red Rooster Cookbook.
In 2012, Samuelsson released Yes, Chef, a memoir co-written with journalist Veronica Chambers about Samuelsson's early life and trajectory to becoming a chef. The book gained favorable reviews and won the James Beard Foundation award for Writing and Literature related to food.
After the success of Yes, Chef, in 2015, Samuelsson published Make it Messy: My Perfectly Imperfect Life, aimed at young adults.
Samuelsson is married to the model Gate (Maya) Haile. Their wedding was in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. They reside in Harlem, New York, New York, near the site of his restaurant, Red Rooster. They welcomed their son, Zion Mandela, on 19 July 2016. Samuelsson has an adult daughter, Zoe.
Samuelsson serves on the board at City Harvest and serves as co-chair of the board of directors for Careers Through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP). He also has been a UNICEF ambassador since 2000, and is the co-founder, along with his wife Gate, of the Three Goats Organization.
- "Timeline: Chef Marcus Samuelsson". Chef Marcus Samuelsson. Archived from the original on 20 May 2019. Retrieved 22 April 2012.
- Fabricant, Florence (29 March 2012). "Starting Tonight, Ginny's Supper Club Looks Back in Harlem". Diner's Journal. New York Times. Retrieved 26 May 2012.
- Pierce, Donna (13 December 2006). "Book of the Year: Back to Africa". Chicago Tribune.
- Season 6, episode 5
- Umeå Universitetet Marcus Samuelsson blir adjungerad professor vid Umeå universitet (in Swedish)
- Marcus Samuelsson's Bio Archived 29 November 2009 at the Wayback Machine, chefmarcussamuelsson.com
- Lee, Felicia R. (10 July 1996). "IN THE KITCHEN WITH: Marcus Samuelsson; From Africa to Sweden to Aquavit". The New York Times.
- "Marcus Samuelsson To Guest Chef State Dinner". Huffington Post. 18 March 2010. Retrieved 17 December 2011.
- Huntington, Lucia (16 December 2009). "Hail to the chef". Boston Globe.
- Sokolov, Raymond (26 December 2009). "The Year in Food". Wall Street Journal.
- Collins, Glenn (7 September 2010). "Marcus Samuelsson Opens in Harlem". The New York Times.
- Lemire, Jonathan; Hutchinson, Bill (29 March 2011). "Obama's Red Rooster fundraising bash pulls in $1.5 million for Democratic National Committee". New York Daily News.
- "Clarion Hotel Arlanda Airport". Nordic Choice Hotels.
- Kitchen & Table
- Fabricant, Florence (31 March 2015). "Marcus Samuelsson's Latest Venture: Streetbird". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 31 July 2017.
- Oseid, John. "Hamilton Princess: In Bermuda, The Official America's Cup Hotel Reveals A Major Art Collection". Forbes. Retrieved 31 July 2017.
- "Marcus' To Re-Open With A New Look And Menu". Bernews.com. 9 March 2017. Retrieved 31 July 2017.
- Jersey, Teresa Politano For Inside. "Marcus Samuelsson brings his food empire to Newark". NJ.com. Retrieved 22 February 2019.
- Dash, Julekha (9 December 2016). "MGM National Harbor opens with star chefs". USA TODAY. Retrieved 31 July 2017.
- Roberts, Catherine (2 May 2012). "Chopped All Stars 2012 Episode 4 – Judge Remix". FoodBeat. Retrieved 9 January 2017.
- Fried Chicken As Made By Marcus Samuelsson
- Marcus Samuelsson Ribs Tasty Story
- WORTH IT S3, E6: "$17 Fried Chicken Vs. $500 Fried Chicken" YouTube
- Meet the Faces Of Tasty
- "Chef Marcus Samuelsson Sets Off On A Mission In Celebrity Undercover Boss". CBS News. 15 May 2017. Retrieved 15 October 2018.
- Scooby-Doo! and the Gourmet Ghost IMDB
- NO PASSPORT REQUIRED Six Part Series Hosted by Marcus Samuelsson Premieres Tuesday July 10 on PBS Broadway World
- Godwin, Michaé (1 February 2019). "NO PASSPORT REQUIRED with Marcus Samuelsson Returns for Second Season on PBS". PBS.
- "No Passport Required – Listings". The Futon Critic. Retrieved 19 January 2020.
- "Aspen Ideas Festival: Chef Marcus Samuelsson on food and community". St. Paul, Minnesota: Minnesota Public Radio. 3 July 2013.
- "Yes, Chef: A Memoir, Written by Marcus Samuelsson". Random House.
- Brion, Raphael (4 May 2013). "Winners: 2013 James Beard Foundation Book, Broadcast & Journalism Awards". Eater.com.
- Samuelsson, Marcus; Chambers, Veronica. Make It Messy: My Perfectly Imperfect Life. ISBN 9780385744003.
- "Destination Weddings: Marcus Samuelsson and Maya Haile". MarthaStewartWeddings.com.
- Lee, Wendy A. (20 February 2010). "Munching to the Future: A Night In with Marcus Samuelsson". New York Times. Retrieved 9 January 2017.
- "Chef Marcus Samuelsson Introduces Son Zion Mandela: He Is 'Such a Blessing'". people.com.
- "Philanthropy". Chef Marcus Samuelsson. Retrieved 30 July 2018.
- "Philanthropy". Chef Marcus Samuelsson. Retrieved 30 July 2018.