Marcus Samuelsson (born Kassahun Tsegie)
Ethiopian-born + Swedish-raised
Chef + Restaurateur
Marcus Samuelsson was born in Ethiopia, but after his mother passed away from contracting tuberculosis he was adopted by Swedish parents, Ann Marie and Lennart Samuelsson, who changed his name and uprooted him to his second home, Sweden. Marcus credits his Swedish grandmother for introducing him to the art of cooking, which he would ultimately decide to pursue professionally through the Culinary Institute in Göteburg, Sweden.
In 1994, Marcus arrived in the U.S. for an apprenticeship at a well-regarded restaurant, Aquavit. A year later, at the age of 23, and as the executive chef of Aquavit, he became the youngest chef at the time to ever receive a 3-star rating from the New York Times. From there, he continued to perfect his craft and opened his first restaurant in 2010 called Red Rooster Harlem, where the menu combines his Swedish and African roots.
Interesting fact: Marcus cooked the State Dinner for president Obama when he hosted the prime minister of India in 2009!