Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Marcus Samuelsson: Smart, Charming, Inspiring!

So on Thursday evening, Deb and I got a very cryptic email inviting us to a "Secret Lunch with Marcus Samuelsson".
(Yep, the world renowned owner and chef of Red Rooster in Harlem, author of "Yes, Chef", and formerly the head chef at Aquavit.)  It was so out of the blue, and seemed so unlikely,  that we initially took it for spam.  Seriously... what would you do?!?

But there was one thing that kept nagging at me - I adore Marcus Samuelsson.  Ever since Tore and I had our  rehearsal dinner and wedding brunch at Aquavit, I have followed the astounding path his career has taken.

So what's a girl to do, but RSVP to the "Secret Lunch" and go?  And I am thrilled that I took a chance... it was an incredible experience.

This intimate event was hosted by 3 Scoops, Kitchn Table and Marcus Samuelsson.  Chef Wheeler del Torro created the soul food fusion lunch which was lovely.

But I digress...the event was held to promote Mr. Samuelsson's new book "Yes, Chef" and did not disappoint.
Mr. Samuelsson gave a charming account of his journey, his family, his career, his inspirations and overcoming "bitter" and "spicy" moments along the way.  He spoke of being a mentee and then switching places to become a mentor, of inspiring by aspiring, and really having to know yourself in order to let that creativity fly. He spoke of all the time and research that went into creating Red Rooster - of going to the New York Public Library to look at old menus and images from the past. And of making sure the Red Rooster reflects and gives back to the community of which it is a part.  Simply fascinating.

We had an opportunity to ask questions and then each had a few minutes to chat with him.  Of course, when it was my turn I blushed like a school girl and babbled on endlessly when I really wanted to ask him this:  how the heck have you been able to do it all*?


*"It" includes pretty impressive things like:
  • Arrived in the US at age 22 only to earn the coveted New York Times three-star rating the following year.
  • Awarded the Rising Star Chef Award from the James Beard Foundation at 27
  • Prepared the first State Dinner for President Obama at 38
  • Opened Red Rooster Harlem at 39
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  1. Becky-

    It was a pleasure meeting you yesterday! Glad to have someone to share my excitement over Mr Samuelsson with (and glad to have found your blog!).

  2. SO jealous!!! L-O-V-E him :)