Marcus Samuelsson at the 2012 Göteborg Book Fair.
January 25, 1970 |
Early life and education
Kassahun Tsegie was born in 1970 in Ethiopia. His father, Tsegie, is an Ethiopian Orthodox Church priest. His mother died in a tuberculosis epidemic when he was three years old. Kassahun and his elder sister, Fantaye, were subsequently adopted by Ann Marie and Lennart Samuelsson, a homemaker and a geologist, respectively, who lived in Göteborg, 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 1991 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 Tastes"), 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/Centric. His cooking combines international influences with traditional cuisines from Sweden to Japan and Africa.
On November 24, 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.
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.
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: Judges Remix. He was awarded the grand prize of $50,000 for his charity, the Careers Through Culinary Arts Program.
In 2014, he made his debut as a judge on the second season of the American television series The Taste.
Samuelsson has released cookbooks New American Table, The Soul of a New Cuisine, and "Marcus Off Duty" 
In 2012, Samuelsson released Yes, Chef, a memoir about how he became a chef. The book gained favorable reviews. As a result, in 2013, he 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.
- Biography of Marcus Samuelsson, African Success. Accessed April 22, 2012.
- Fabricant, Florence (March 29, 2012). "Starting Tonight, Ginny’s Supper Club Looks Back in Harlem". Diner's Journal. New York Times. Retrieved May 26, 2012.
- Pierce, Donna (13 December 2006). "Book of the Year: Back to Africa". Chicago Tribune.
- Umeå Universitetet Marcus Samuelsson blir adjungerad professor vid Umeå universitet (Swedish)
- Marcus Samuelsson's Bio, 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
- "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.
- "Destination Weddings: Marcus Samuelsson and Maya Haile". MarthaStewartWeddings.com.