My evening with Master Chef Marcus Samuelsson

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by Amy Flanigan on December 3, 2010 · 20 comments

Award-winning cookbook author, restaurateur, The Institute of Culinary Education adviser, winner of Bravo’s Top Chef Masters, James Beard award winner, and guest chef for the first state dinner of the Barack Obama presidency in 2009.

That’s Marcus Samuelsson.

I was fortunate to be among an intimate group of 25 who got to watch him cook and listen to him speak last night. It was fantastic.

He could have easily made me feel small and insignificant. I am after all, just a home cook who writes about food – no awards or cookware line. But instead, he made me feel as though my presence and opinions were just as important as anyone else.

He talked to us with warmth and humor, as if we were all gathered around his kitchen table, just swapping stories about family and food. He has an enormous appreciation for the home-based cook.

The New American Table is his current cookbook, which celebrates our diversity and the blended family; how we all come from a different food background, each of us telling our own story and staying connected to our roots.

Ah, food is love.

Marcus also pays attention to the waste in our country. As a nation, we throw away 33% of our food. His book introduces ideas for creating second-day meals, and how to re-brand the second meal, making them sound appealing and exciting. He believes that chefs need to lead this conversation and set an example.

Way to go, Marcus.

He’s also excited to be a part of the television and social media movement, which has brought so much attention to food. It’s everywhere and there is never a more exciting time to be a chef. (Hey, it’s exciting to be blogging about it, too!)

Besides getting to taste samples of four recipes from his book, another highlight was watching an 85 year old woman from Louisiana show Marcus the proper way to make fried chicken. Don’t mess with ladies from the south and their fried chicken! It was awesome.

Also worthy of mentioning, my friend Krysta from Evil Chef Mom, who was most gracious to accompany me, got the thumbs up when explaining how she preps a bird for Thanksgiving. A seal of approval from Marcus Samuelsson. Way to go, Krysta. Way to go.

And I got my book signed. That’s a collector’s item, for sure. Not for BookSwap.com.

And what would a session about great cooking with a world-renowned chef be without learning a few things? Here are some tips:

• Always consider your audience when cooking – are they vegetarian? Will there be children there?
• Try to reintroduce an ingredient from one part of the meal into another – if the chicken is marinated in coconut milk, use a little coconut milk when simmering the spinach.
• Don’t try a new recipe AND new ingredients when hosting – way too ambitious.
• Use tongs when dredging anything in egg and flour – avoid the mess on your fingers and several trips to the sink. Why didn’t I think of that?!

Thank you to Malika at Be Everywhere for inviting me. Thank you Macy’s Culinary Council for hosting. Thank you to Krysta for being my date and helping me navigate my way through the city of San Francisco.

Thank you Marcus for the great food and being so humble. I am honored to have shared in your world for a few hours. If I am ever in Harlem, your restaurant The Red Rooster, is my first stop.

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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Saint Tigerlily March 28, 2011 at 10:11 am

This is awesome. I love Red Rooster even more now.

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Amy December 7, 2010 at 8:26 am

Thanks everyone! Is was such a fantastic experience and I love that you’re all excited for me! I had a perma-grin for about 2 days afterward.

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5 Star Foodie December 6, 2010 at 4:43 pm

Very exciting! I love Marcus Samuelsson, what a great experience!

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Amy @ Serve At Once December 6, 2010 at 3:53 pm

Amy, how cool is that? Thanks for the info–I’ll be looking for that book.

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Stephanie @ Per l'Amore del Cibo December 6, 2010 at 7:36 am

Wow Amy, what a great experience! Sounds (and looks) like you had an awesome time. Thanks for sharing!

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Dani H December 5, 2010 at 11:52 am

Woo Hoo! So happy you got to go and so glad you shared! {face/palm – TONGS, of course!}

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Kathy - Panini Happy December 4, 2010 at 4:09 pm

What a fun event!

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Mom December 4, 2010 at 11:29 am

How exciting to be one of a select few to join his cooking demonstration, and what a super blog with pictures included. Loved hearing all the details and see how it energized you. Can’t wait to looks through his cookbook in closer detail.

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Kathleen December 4, 2010 at 5:37 am

Thank you so much for sharing this experience with the rest of us. It was wonderful to read about your time and share in your excitement!

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Jude December 4, 2010 at 12:20 am

Is there a cooler chef out there? Samuelsson was ahead of his time when he had Aquavit in Minneapolis, way before the chef-driven restaurant crave hit. His restaurant didn’t last here, but his mission statement has finally gained wide acceptance. Hooray!

Amy, I’m so happy for you to have had this experience. And like Ethan noted, thanks for confirming how down to earth this rockstar is.

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Heather December 3, 2010 at 9:29 pm

Very cool! I’m glad you got to go and meet him. He is one of my favorite celebrity chefs.

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Lisa@The Cutting Edge of Ordinary December 3, 2010 at 3:54 pm

How cool! I don’t know if I’m more jealous about you getting to meet Marcus or Krysta, lol. Looks like you had a great time. Now tell Krysta to give up her turkey secrets!

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Dianna December 3, 2010 at 3:43 pm

how wonderful… :)

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Joanne December 3, 2010 at 3:20 pm

Oh that is SO awesome! I came thisclose to having brunch with Marcus because one of my cousins is roommates with a girl who does PR for Kraft, and blah blah blah I had to be in the hospital seeing patients that morning. Boo. But I DID get a copy of his cookbook and I’m in LOVE. So excited for you babe!

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Jen December 3, 2010 at 3:16 pm

I wish I could have gone. Really wonderful post Ame! I’m glad you had such a good time.

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Dad December 3, 2010 at 2:57 pm

That’s some book, btw! Photography is great, and there are many shots of neighborhoods and people as well as food. It definitely belongs in the kitchen or on a coffee table, but shouldn’t a coffee table be in the kitchen?

You looked really mahrvelous when you returned, darling. Marcus looks like he could charm the skin off the turkey and the crust off bread.

Love.

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danica Kombol December 3, 2010 at 2:42 pm

Amy- so glad you made it out to see Marcus. Everyone from the Everywhere team who are charged with promoting Macy’s Culinary Council through social media loved hearing about it from you! Marcus really gets social doesn’t he!! And food for that matter.

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Malika Harricharan December 3, 2010 at 2:22 pm

Glad you had a good time Amy! Nice pic and thanks for writing a great post so quickly!

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Ethan @ tastesbetterwithfriends December 3, 2010 at 1:34 pm

This just confirm all the good things I’ve heard about him. He seems totally down to earth and just gets it. Looks like you had a great time!

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Paul December 3, 2010 at 1:31 pm

I had waffles while you were in San Francisco with Mr. Amazingcheffoodmaker.

I wish I got to go.

I didn’t.

Y’all shoulda seen the nine-mile-wide grin on her face when she came home. That was pretty cool.

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