You never know where you will end up in life and who you will meet along the way. This stands true for Chef Sylva Senat, who worked with Marcus at Aquavit. With lots of guidance and determination, Chef Senat explains how Marcus was a influential part in his success today, and what an honor it is to be a chef.
A: Sylva Hudson Senat, Executive Chef at Tashan Restaurant in Philadelphia
Q: What was it like working with Marcus?
A: After working at The Sign Of the Dove, I was working the grill station at an Italian restaurant called Cibo. It was during this time, I volunteered for the annual Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP) event where I met Chef Marcus Samuelsson. I was so delighted to be at his table serving his food, I nervously asked for a kitchen trail. Marcus was so young for a chef at the time, yet he was so wise and talented. I wanted to push myself and be like him. I got to spend the better half of the beginning of my career helping and being part of that Aquavit team through the guidance of Chef Samuelsson. Even all these years later, I still very much looked to Marcus as a mentor. As my time was coming to an end at Aquavit, Chef Marcus and I spoke about my next restaurant. “ You have to work twice as hard then anybody else in that kitchen” he would tell me. Then he introduced me to Gabriel Kreuther, who was then theg Chef de Cuisine of Jean Georges Restaurant at the Trump Hotel. And a new adventure began, but throughout my career I looked to Marcus for advice and guidance on the next move in my career.
Q: Congrats on the Food & Wine Peoples Best New Chef nomination. That is such an amazing honor. How did that feel?
A: You know, it’s still surreal to be nominated for Food and Wine and James Beard Best Chef Mid-Atlantic at the same time. I remember looking at those two lists and saying “I have that chef’s books and his book, I love that restaurant …” When I met chef Marcus at the 2013 C-Cap event I thanked him He said, “Don’t be silly, it’s your hard work.” I was seriously just happy to be a list with such great chefs that I admire.
Q: It’s spring. What menu changes are you excited for on the menu at Tashan?
A: I just recently changed the menu after my visit to Japan in late February. I am most excited about a banana steam bass with a Honshimeji mushroom – Poha Crust “flat rice “ with curry foam …
Q: What’s next for you?
A: I’ve always dreamed of having my own restaurant(s). Food with a passion for inspiring flavors, bringing a little light to my Caribbean-French cuisine. How fun and inviting a small chef driven kitchen can be!
For more Q&A’s: