Marcus Samuelsson was born in Ethiopia during 1970 and was named at birth, Kassahun Tsegie. He is from Sweden and co-owns C-House restaurant (located in Affinia Hotel — Chicago), as well as the Aquavit Restaurant — NYC. His mom died when he was three and chef Samuelsson and his sister were adopted by a couple in Sweden. Chef has another adopted sister and Samuelsson’s biological father, along with 8 half siblings, is a priest living in the same Ethiopian village that chef Samuelson was born in.
Chef Samuelsson’s grandmother in Sweden got him interested in cooking, and he studied at the culinary institute located in Gothenburg. After being an apprentice in Austria and Switzerland, he journeyed to the U.S. in 1991 and then apprenticed at Aquavit. He was an executive chef there by age 24, and was the youngest chef ever to get a 3 star review from the NY Times. The prestigious James Beard Foundation named him Best Chef in NYC in 2003.
Also during 2003, Chef Samuelsson created Riingo in NYC and it had a menu featuring Japanese influenced American food. He has published several cookbooks in Swedish and English. The Soul of a New Cuisine was out in 2006 and it featured African-inspired dishes. It won the James Beard Foundation award for the Best Intl. Cookbook. His other books are Street Food and A Journey of Tastes.
Chef Samuelsson is a visiting professor at Umea University (culinary arts), which is in Sweden. His TV show Inner Chef, was on the Discovery Channel in 2005, and he also had Urban Cuisine on BET & J/Centric in 2008. His food reflects influences from the international community, as well as those from Japan, Sweden and Africa in particular.
Chef Samuelsson is married to a model, Gate Maya Haile. He was a guest chef at the White House in 2009 and used fresh vegetables from the White House garden in a mainly vegetarian and sustainable product menu. He created roasted potato dumplings, green curried prawns, and red lentil soup.
Chef Samuelsson has been on many TV shows such as Chopped, Iron Chef, Top Chef, the Today Show, and he’s appeared on CNN, The Dylan Ratigan Show, and MSNBC. He recently won on Bravo’s Top Chef Masters.