His new book invites us into his kitchen and takes us around the world.
Chef Marcus Samuelsson has had many homes. Born in Ethiopia, he was raised in Sweden by his adoptive parents. He now lives with his wife in Harlem, N.Y., and owns restaurants around the world, from Harlem’s Red Rooster and Marc Burger (Chicago and Southern California), to Norda in Gothenburg, Sweden.
His palate ranges as widely as his restaurant empire, as do the dishes he prepares for friends and family. His latest cookbook, Marcus Off Duty: The Recipes I Cook at Home, celebrates those meals.
"A simple, satisfying meal at the end of a busy day or what you make on the fly when friends show up are some of my favorite things to eat," Samuelsson says. "At home, you grab whatever you’re feeling, and that kind of fun, spontaneous cooking is what I wanted to share in the book."
His salmon with dill recipe is the Swedish equivalent of American meatloaf, while his doro wat tostados are a playful pairing of a traditional Ethiopian chicken stew and Latin street food. Other entries include a South African curry, a Vietnamese sandwich, fish tacos, and rib-eye steaks rubbed with coffee and chocolate.
"I love to travel and discover new flavors, walk the streets wherever I am and taste, taste, taste," says Samuelsson, winner of multiple James Beard awards. "I’m inspired when I am at a new table, whether that’s at a friend’s home or in an amazing restaurant."
Samuelsson may run kitchens worldwide, but he’s not always at the stove at home. His wife, Maya, also born in Ethiopia, dazzles him with the dishes that she prepares. "She’s an amazing cook, especially Ethiopian home cooking," he says. "I like to be her sous chef. I learn a lot. I still can’t figure out why her doro wat is better than mine."
When not in the kitchen or looking for inspiration at a farmers market, he’s often walking or taking a morning run. "But the best is when I can play soccer with my friends. I try to make that happen as much as possible."