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.