Marcus Samuelsson

Early Life

Chef Marcus Samuelsson was born in rural Ethiopia in 1970. Unfortunately, at the age of three, his mother died of tuberculosis and he and his sister, Linda, were adopted shortly afterwards. As a result they moved to Gothenburg, Sweden with their adoptive parents.  They had a full childhood, filled with adventures of fishing, exploring and cooking. Samuelsson’s Grandma, Helga, had a huge influence on Samuelsson’s passion for cooking. They would spend hours in the kitchen, frying up fish straight out of the brook and using only the freshest produce. These moments were the catalyst for Samuelsson’s desire to cook with only organic fresh ingredients. Yet, what is fascinating about Samuelsson is that his cooking is inspired by his childhood experiences as well as his Ethiopian roots. He is continually influenced and inspired by the spices, ethic and community of his country. “Their drive inspires me to work as hard as I can to take the knowledge I have about food and to share it with those who want to learn how to prepare fresh, affordable meals,” (Samuelsson homepage) Samuelsson says. His drive, passion and determination to be not only a chef, but one that truly has an influence on his community certainly makes him stand out in the large pool of chefs.


 Marcus Samuelsson featured as head Chef at Aquavit. 
            Photographer:  Judy Griesedieck. (Source)


At the young age of 16, Samuelsson attended the Culinary Institute of Goteburg, beginning his culinary career, while simultaneously working in various bakeries in the mornings and restaurants at night. Eventually he moved to New York city to work as an apprentice at a highly respected restaurant, Aquavit. When Samuelsson was only 24 years old, the head chef of Aquavit died unexpectedly, leaving Samuelson as the head chef (Restaurant, and York – JRank Articles). From there, Samuelsson’s career launched and every year he adds more accomplishments to his repertoire.

Now, Samuelsson has two restaurants of his own, Ringo and Red Rooster, and has written an a plethora of cookbooks. He is the author of the cookbook “The Soul of a New Cuisine: A Discovery of the Foods and Flavors of Africa” which received The James Beard award for best international cookbook (click here to buy).

He has also won many awards such as the James Beard Foundation award for “Best Chef: New York City” and got a three star review from New York Times and even appeared as a guest chef for the first state dinner for former President Obama.

He has made appearances on multiple TV shows such as Iron Chef America, Chopped, Anthony Bourdain; Parts unknown among many others. on the show “Top chef masters” which resulted in $115,000 to go towards UNICEF’s grassroots effort called ‘The Tap Project’ which helps to provide clean for those who live in rural areas with disease ridden water.

Philosophy and Personal Life

samuelsson and wife
Above Samuelsson is featured with Haile on his wedding day.  Photographer: Unknown, Click here for source

Although he did not grow up in Ethiopia, Samuelsson has visited his native country many times and is continuously moved and inspired by the Ethiopians’ desire to build up their community and work hard for food. These peoples have shaped Samuelsson’s goals to take his own knowledge of food and share it with others; teaching people how to make healthy affordable meals. He is also involved in several charities with a strong emphasis in providing clean water to impoverished areas. In the past three years, Samuelsson has founded his own food and wine festival along side with event producer Herb Kartliz; crafting an event that has the potential to become one of America’s most legendary food   festivals (for more information on this festival, click here).


Below is a video featuring Samuelsson’s  interview by journalist David Tamarkin about one of Samuelssons other festivals. For the written article click here.



He is married to Ethiopian model Maya Haile whom also has a passion for food. She keeps him grounded in his roots as they work together to make the world a better place. Currently, they live in New York city so Samuelsson can be near his restaurant Red Rooster.


Works Cited 

Brennan, Carol. “Marcus Samuelsson Biography – Selected Writings.” Aquavit, Chef,

Restaurant, and York – JRank Articles. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Apr. 2017.

“Home.” Chef Marcus Samuelsson. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Apr. 2017.

“Marcus Samuelsson.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 21 Apr. 2017. Web. 28 Apr. 2017.

Staff, Splash. “Marcus Samuelsson Embraces the Global Food Movement with a New Cookbook.” SPLASH. N.p., 16 Feb. 2015. Web. 30 Apr. 2017.

“Who Is Marcus Samuelsson? Everything You Need to Know.” Childhood, Life Achievements & Timeline. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Apr. 2017.




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