July 19, 2012
Chef Marcus Samuelsson Comes to Atlanta To Roost
The NYC chef-turned-author from Red Rooster has lots to crow about
By James Oxendine
On the eve of the Atlanta stop of his 15-city book tour for Yes, Chef: A Memoir, LuxeCrush caught up with the peripatetic Chef Marcus Samuelsson for some quick soundbites.
Marcus Samuelsson, the Ethiopian-born, Swedish-raised superstar chef and owner of Red Rooster Harlem in New York City, will be in Atlanta on Monday, July 23, to host an Author Dinner at Restaurant Eugene based on his red-hot new book Yes, Chef: A Memoir [Random House]. The dishy tome chronicles Chef Samuelsson’s Dickensian childhood from Ethiopian orphan to the adopted child of a Swedish couple, culinary training in the capitals of Europe, and later, his meteoric rises, falls, and rises again in NYC’s cut-throat restaurant world.
Chef Samuelsson has penned other tomes, including his 2006 African-inspired cookbook The Soul of a New Cuisine, which received the prize for "Best International Cookbook" by the James Beard Foundation and he’s the proud chef and proprietor of acclaimed eatery Red Rooster Harlem, which serves up “elevated American comfort food” like “Fried Yard Bird,” catfish and grits, mac & greens and sweet potato doughnuts. Recently he opened a sultry jazz club/bar, Ginny’s Supper Club, in the basement of Red Rooster serving up craft cocktails alongside Lobster Thermidor, Baked Alaska and Chicken and Waffles with chicken liver butter and bourbon maple syrup. Prior to that, Samuelsson made his name as chef and part-owner of NYC’s Aquavit, highlighting pristine, seasonal and often-overlooked Scandinavian cuisine (think: juniper-charred Icelandic cod with quail egg and pickled Persian cucumber or Aquavit steak tartare with Danish rye and black truffle nobis). In fact, while at Aquavit, he was the youngest chef to garner a 3-star rating from The New York Times at the tender age of 24. The global-minded Samuelsson also opened Riingo, serving Japanese-inflected American food.
The 2010 Top Chef Masters winner, Visiting Professor of Culinary Science at Sweden's Umea University (and Gordon Ramsey BFF) took some time out from his hectic book tour in Dallas for a quick telephone chat in anticipation of his Atlanta visit.
Is this your first visit to Atlanta?
No, I've been to Atlanta many, many times. I love Atlanta; I have many customers at Red Rooster who are from Atlanta.
Where have you dined here in Atlanta?
Restaurant Eugene, Gladys Knight, Justin's and several Ethiopian restaurants, just to name a few of the places that I've enjoyed there.
You mention Atlanta-based chef Marvin Woods in the book, where did you guys meet?
We met in New York when he was at Cafe Beulah. We were two young black chefs working our way up. We shared a lot back then.
What other Atlanta chef have you enjoyed working with?
Guenter Seeger. He is a master of the fine dining genre.
Last question before you ring off, and one I have to ask. Is there a Red Rooster in Atlanta's future?
Not yet. I am still working on the New York model. We just opened Ginny's Supper Club, a jazz club/ bar, in the basement of Red Rooster and I want to get all of the details right before I even think about expanding.
For info and reservations to the Marcus Samuelsson dinner: 404.355.0321 or restauranteugene.com