Marcus Samuelsson

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Addis Ababa,
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Addis Ababa,

Marcus Samuelsson is a chef, restaurateur, cookbook author, food activist, and philanthropist who has won numerous awards. He owns and operates the ‘Red Rooster’ restaurant in Harlem, New York City, as well as several additional restaurants in the United States and Sweden. Samuelsson was born in Ethiopia, raised in Sweden, and had his training all around Europe. His father warned him as a child that building a career in the restaurant sector as a black chef from Africa would be tough, and it was. He was forced to prepare for his dog by one chef, and he was regularly abused in a variety of languages. Despite this, he persisted. In a recent piece for the Associated Press, Samuelsson stated, “It was my responsibility to knock through those walls.” “I face numerous obstacles, such as being an immigrant and being from Africa. It did, however, give me a sense of direction and a work ethic. You need to be a little more exact “. Because of the city’s diversity, New York has caught his heart. It’s also where he met his future wife. On his website, he claims, “New York City feels so much like home that I nearly feel like I grew up here.” He enjoys learning about new foods, and the dishes at ‘Red Rooster’ reflect this cross-cultural blending. Continue reading to learn more about his passion for cuisine.

Childhood and Adolescence

On January 25, 1970, Samuelsson was born in rural Ethiopia as ‘Kassahun Tsegie.’ His mother died of TB when he was two years old, leaving him orphaned.

Kassahun and Fantaye, his older sister, also suffered tuberculosis. But, thankfully, they recovered and were adopted by Ann Marie and Lennart Samuelsson, who brought them to Gothenburg, Sweden. Marcus and Linda were the adoptive parents’ given names, and they had an adopted sister named Anna.

Marcus had a pleasant upbringing, even if the racial taunts directed at black children in his little Swedish village were difficult to bear at times. He was a soccer fanatic. When his family spent their summers in Smögen, Sweden, he also enjoyed catching fish and cooking and preserving food.

Marcus and Linda’s biological father resided with Samuelssons’ eighteen half-siblings in his hamlet. In the year 2000, he bonded with his biological father and traveled to Ethiopia to meet his half-siblings. Some of these relatives’ education is supported by him financially.

Career of Marcus Samuelsson

Marcus Samuelsson learned to cook from his Swedish grandmother, Helga, who had spent much of her life doing household chores. Roasted chicken, pickled vegetables, and lingonberry and apple jams were some of her domestic specialties.

After graduating from Gothenburg’s ‘Culinary Institute,’ he worked as an apprentice in Switzerland, Austria, and France until migrating to the United States in 1989.
Samuelsson started as an apprentice at the Swedish restaurant ‘Aquavit’ in New York in 1994 and worked his way up to the executive chef. In just a few months, the restaurant was awarded three stars by ‘The New York Times.’ He was the youngest chef to ever receive a 3-star rating the following year, at the age of 23.

Samuelsson progressed from a wunderkind of Scandinavian cuisine to a culinary explorer who dug deep into his own roots over time. When he visited Ethiopia, he learned about berbere spice mixes and how to prepare flat, spongy injera bread. He eventually published ‘The Soul of a New Food: A Discovery of the Foods and Flavors of Africa,’ a cookbook about African cuisine.

In 2009, he served as a guest chef at the White House for President Barack Obama’s first state banquet. The supper was mostly vegetarian in honor of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. In dishes like red lentil soup, roasted potato dumplings, and green curry prawns, Samuelsson used vegetables and herbs from the White House Garden to imitate Indian flavors.

In 2010, Samuelsson launched ‘,’ a website “for those who want to eat and drink well, and live smart,” and in December of that year, he opened his own restaurant, ‘Red Rooster,’ and the basement speakeasy, ‘Ginny’s Supper Club,’ serving varied American roots cuisine.

In 2011, US President Barack Obama attended a fund-raising event at ‘Red Rooster.’ The charity event held to promote the ‘National Democratic Party’ was a success, with $1.5 million raised.

Since 2012, he has been a part of the ‘Kitchen &Table’ restaurant concept, which is supported by the hospitality giants ‘Clarion Hotels.’ He assisted in the opening of the first restaurant at Arlanda Airport and is currently working on projects in Sweden and Norway.

Major Projects of Marcus Samuelsson

The well-known chef is also the author of a number of critically acclaimed cookbooks. In 2007, the James Beard Award for ‘Best International Cookbook’ was given to ‘The Soul of a New Cuisine: A Discovery of the Foods and Flavors of Africa.’

‘Aquavit and the New Scandinavian Cuisine,’ ‘EnSmakresa med Marcus Samuelsson,’ ‘New American Table,’ ‘Off Duty: The Recipes I Cook at Home,’ and ‘Street Food’ are among the chef’s other works. His memoir with Veronica Chambers, ‘Yes, Chef: A Memoir,’ was nominated for a James Beard Foundation award and was a New York Times bestseller.

Achievements & Awards

In 1999, Samuelsson received the ‘James Beard’s Rising Star Chef Award.’
In 2003, he was named Best Chef in New York City.

He competed in Bravo’s ‘Top Chef Masters’ television series in early 2010. He won the competition and received $115,000 for UNICEF’s ‘The Tap Project,’ a grassroots initiative.

Personal History and Legacy

Samuelsson is a Visiting Professor at the ‘Umea University School of Restaurant and Culinary Arts’ in Sweden, where he teaches ‘International Culinary Science.’

He serves on the board of directors of the ‘Careers Through Culinary Arts Program’ in New York City and is an ambassador for the United States Fund for UNICEF.

In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, he married professional model Gate Haile in 2009. Haile was born in Ethiopia and raised in Europe, just like Samuelsson. They live in a renovated brownstone near Red Rooster in New York’s Harlem district.

Estimated net worth

Marcus Samuelsson has a $5 million net worth as an Ethiopian-Swedish chef and restaurateur. Marcus Samuelsson was born in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa in January 1970. In Sweden, he developed a passion for cooking through his grandmother and went on to study at the Culinary Institute in Gothenburg. He worked as an apprentice in Switzerland and Austria before moving to the United States in 1991 to work at Restaurant Aquavit.


Samuelsson’s initial interest as a child was soccer, but due to his short stature, he had to give it up in high school. He made the decision to focus on cooking and learning English.