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Q&A With Marcus Samuelsson

The famed chef and cookbook author tells us about his history as a cook, his worst and best health habits, and his latest book, 'Yes, Chef.'

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I am a big fan of Japanese food. It's such a diverse cuisine and culture. For a Western chef, sushi is the hardest cuisine to learn and to understand. It's very cerebral and very challenging.

What do you like to cook at home for yourself and your wife?

Lots of vegetables. I like to cook ramen noodles with lots of fresh vegetables. I also like to do Ethiopian chickpea puree, and grilled fennel, and Swedish meatballs with roasted potatoes.

What five ingredients do you always stock in your pantry at home?

Good olive oil, rice wine vinegar, Ethiopian berbere spice mix, Ethiopian chickpea puree, and couscous.

What's for dinner tonight?

Jerked veal tongue buns. We're very excited about that.

After two decades or more in the kitchen, how do you maintain your passion for your work?

My work leads me into passion through its challenges. Opening Red Rooster in Harlem, putting a restaurant in a food desert and helping to turn this neighborhood around is a big part of that. It's very exciting.

How do you manage to juggle your professional life with married life?

My wife and I try to find pockets of time to see each other. Sometimes we do, but sometimes we aren't able to, and that's hard. One day, I would like to find a better balance, but with my work and my lifestyle, there are so many hurdles. That is very taxing for my family life.

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Reviewed on April 12, 2012

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