Acclaimed Chef Marcus Samuelsson to be honored at Toast to the Children

Photo by Paul Brissman

Children of Bellevue is thrilled to be honoring Chef Marcus Samuelsson, the internationally acclaimed chef who has thrilled the food scene with a blend of culture and artistic excellence, at the 2012 Toast to the Children on April 24 at Tom Colicchio’s Riverpark. Chef Samuelsson was chosen to be this year’s food honoree by the Toast co-chairs for his vast contributions to not only the culinary world, but also for his dedication to charitable causes.

Celebrated as one of “The Great Chefs of America” by the Culinary Institute of America, Chef Samuelsson launched his career as a graduate of the Culinary Institute in Gothenburg, with apprenticeships in Switzerland, Austria, France and the United States. Chef Samuelsson was raised in Gothenburg, Sweden, after his parents adopted him and his sister from Ethiopia at the age of 3. They encouraged him to pursue his talents without geographic bounds. At the early age of 24, Chef Samuelsson caught the attention of the culinary world at Aquavit. During his tenure as executive chef, he received consecutive four-star ratings in Forbes and two impressive three-star ratings from The New York Times, the youngest person ever to receive such an accolade.

Chef Samuelsson continues to break new ground, connecting contrasting geographies and palates while lending his exceptional voice to the evolving conversation of food and culture. A collection of successful cookbooks, including Aquavit and the New Scandinavian Cuisine (2003), and The Soul of a New Cuisine (2006), have won him numerous awards from The New York Times, Washington Post and Chicago Tribune.

His recent submersion into the local farms and kitchens of the American landscape, have inspired a new zest for merging worlds. His findings and interpretations can be found in his top selling new book, New American Table. As of late winter 2010, the cookbook has received numerous recognitions such as Best Overall Cookbook from, a Special Jury Award from Gourmand and a Best American Cookbook nomination from IACP and a Best Photography Award nomination from the James Beard Foundation.

Chef Samuelsson has been featured on a number of media platforms including Iron Chef, the Martha Stewart Show, and Late Night With Jimmy Fallon. He also frequently appears on the TODAY Show, CBS Early Show and Good Morning America. Chef Samuelsson also contributes to websites such as the Huffington Post, and, a web-based program where he delivers bi-monthly culinary segments to millions of online viewers.

Most notably, Chef Samuelsson beat out 21 fellow chefs on the second season of the television competition Top Chef Masters on Bravo, winning $115,000 for the UNICEF Tap Project.  Chef Samuelsson was recently honored as a Guest Chef at the White House under the Obama Administration, where he planned and executed the administration’s first state dinner for the first family, Prime Minister Singh of India, and 400 of their guests.

In December 2010, Chef Samuelsson opened Red Rooster Harlem. The restaurant celebrates the roots of American cuisine in one of New York City’s liveliest and culturally rich neighborhoods.  In 2011, he co-founded, the first food and lifestyle website for men.  Chef Samuelsson continues to receive awards and accolades; these include honors such as hosting President Obama at Red Rooster Harlem, and being named on the “International Best Dressed List 2011” in Vanity Fair magazine.

While Chef Samuelsson has been honored by the prestigious James Beard Foundation on multiple occasions including “Rising Star Chef” (1999), “Best Chef: New York City” (2003), and “Best International Cookbook” (2007), he continues to maintain humility to the art of food and his UNICEF endeavors, working towards immunization and curbing malnutrition for children throughout the world.

INTERVIEW with Chef Samuelsson

1. What is your first memory in the kitchen and what was the first dish that you ever cooked?

One of my first memories in the kitchen is eating Gingersnaps, a popular Swedish cookie, with my Grandmother.  One of my first eating memories is eating lingonberries.  I remember how sour and tart they tasted and I wasn’t even sure I liked them – but as a Swede, you learn to love them!

2. When did you decide you wanted to be a chef and what influenced you most?

A combination of influences helped me decide to be a chef, which I decided on at a young age. One of the biggest influences was my Grandmother, Helga, who taught me how to cook. As a kid, I was also influenced by my chef buddies who were a couple of years older than me, and I really looked up to what they did. I have always loved the creativity of cooking and the balance between craft and artistry.

3. What is your crowning culinary achievement?

Still being able to keep working and cooking for the public. A lot has changed since I started professionally cooking over twenty years ago, and as a creative person I feel lucky to be able to continue to do what I love even after all this time.

4. When at home, what is your favorite dish to cook and/or eat?

My wife’s Doro W’et, which is an Ethiopian stew.  The whole house smells like Ethiopia when she makes it, and the smell lingers for a whole week, but I love it!

5. If you could cook with only 3 ingredients, what would they be and why? And what would you make?

Water. Fresh vegetables. Spices. I’d make a killer veggie soup, with lots of spices.

6. Since Children of Bellevue serves some of New York City’s most needy children, what words of encouragement would you give them to follow their dreams?

Most successful people started with very little, but they prevail.  To me, no other city has people who exemplify this more than New York – you see it all around.  I want kids to know that no matter how tough it is right now, anything is possible.

You can visit Chef Marcus Samuelsson at

Samuelsson Chili

Serves 6




    • 1/2 cup sour cream
    • juice of one lime
    • 1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped


Soak chipotle peppers in water until soft and chop.

In a large Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Brown the meat on all sides. Add the onions, garlic, chili powder, chipotle chili and cumin. Sauté until onions are softened and fragrant. Mix in the masa harina. Continue cooking on medium heat.

Add crushed tomatoes, salt, cinnamon stick, oregano and 2 cups water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a slow simmer.

Stir in the kidney beans and continue to cook, covered, for another 30 minutes, stirring occasionally add the chocolate and continue to cook for an additional 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, mix sour cream with lime juice and cilantro and set aside.

To serve, divide into bowls and top with a dollop of sour cream and tortilla chips.


One thought on “Acclaimed Chef Marcus Samuelsson to be honored at Toast to the Children

  1. Pingback: Easter Eggs & Tacos – what an unlikely combination! « toast2children

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