Food for Thought

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Swedish American Chamber of Commerce Green Summit: From Farm to Fork

By Raquel Jacquez | November 17, 2015

Photo of Gail Simmons, Marcus Samuelsson, Emma Bengtsson, Fredrik Berselius and Amanda Cohen at the Swedish American Chamber of Commerce Green Summit - from Farm to Fork.
Photo of Gail Simmons, Marcus Samuelsson, Emma Bengtsson, Fredrik Berselius and Amanda Cohen at the Swedish American Chamber of Commerce Green Summit - from Farm to Fork.

Photo of Gail Simmons, Marcus Samuelsson, Emma Bengtsson, Fredrik Berselius and Amanda Cohen at the Swedish American Chamber of Commerce Green Summit – from Farm to Fork.

Just last week Marcus was in conversation with other Swedish restauranteurs at the Swedish American Chamber of Commerce Green Summit – from Farm to Fork.  Growing up in Sweden, Marcus has profound memories eating fresh fish and local foods that were the backbone of his diet as a child. Growing up in that environment allowed him to nurture his curiosity for the world around him and discover the multitude of connections between the environment and his family’s kitchen. Today, as a chef and restauranteur, Marcus uses his knowledge and awareness of the webbed supply chain in order to elevate the conversation around sustainability.

As a chef, Marcus has devoted so much of his energies toward growing sustainable models inside his restaurants in order to support the local communities where his restaurants reside. Whether he is in Stockholm, Bermuda or Harlem, Marcus says that each place has its own questions of sustainable practices and faces unique challenges based on the local markets and supply chain.  “We need to activate the farmers markets and hire from within the community in order to create sustainable practices,” says Marcus.  Red Rooster has been doing this since its inception and Marcus can recall the success that it has had in doing so. “Buying from the farmers market and purchasing ingredients that are relevant to the community is something chefs can do to activate the local economy. I see it when we create menu items at Red Rooster based on the availability of ingredients at the market,” Marcus said in response to a question about local practices from Gail Simmons, cookbook author and TV personality.

Other panelists agreed that chefs have a responsibility to link the produce from the market to the restaurant and broadcast that narrative for the larger public. Marcus was speaking at the Green Summit with Amanda Cohen, Fredrik Berselius, Emma Bengtsson and the conversation was facilitated by Gail Simmons.

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From a Chef’s Perspective: Marcus in Conversation with Tom Colicchio and Andrea Reusing at the New York Times’ Food for Tomorrow Conference

By Raquel Jacquez | October 22, 2015

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This week, chefs, activists, policymakers, farmers and journalists convened for the New York Times’ Food for Tomorrow Conference at the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture.

In a conversation facilitated by Sam Sifton (New York Times food editor), with Tom Colicchio (Craft Restaurants and Co-Founder of Food Policy Action) and Andrea Reusing (Lantern and The Durham), Marcus discussed the divide between what comes out of urban America and what is in and of urban America, particularly when we think about food as an expression of art, culture and history.

Marcus first began thinking about this because he wanted to find purpose in being a chef in Harlem – a community where there is a huge divide between the pleasures of good food and access to a dining experience that celebrates the community’s art, history and culture. From the beginning, Marcus says, he was thinking about these dynamics when he opened Red Rooster.

As a result of the industrialized and modern food system, the working poor have gained the convenience of cheap food, but it has come with a price. Marcus believes that we have traded the convenience of cheap food for the basic skills of cooking and preparing foods. In other words, we now have an entire generation of people lacking the knowledge and skills needed to prepare food for themselves and are, instead, stuck in a food system that has removed agency by marketing cheap food that is conveniently making us sick. Whether or not this trade-off was an intentional decision we made, is not the point. The point is that we are facing major consequences as a result of the design of our food system and we have to begin to think about how to combat the challenges together, as a community. Tom Colicchio agreed with Marcus and added, “We need to educate a population. We are a generation removed from actually having any skills at all in the kitchen and knowing where food comes from.”

While we need radically different policies in our food system in order to create access to healthy foods for the working poor, there are significant solutions that we can implement in our own neighborhoods to change the way people are thinking about food. “My food memories growing up, aside from my family, come from the lunches that I had at school where I really actually started to develop a real sense of flavor because it was real food – not what we have right now,” says Marcus. Imagine if, as Marcus suggests, the lunchroom actually resembled the complexity of flavors in America’s diverse population and we were serving children real food while simultaneously educating them about how to prepare it.

“The beauty of America,” as Marcus points out, “is that we are so complex and so different. We are one of the few countries in the world that don’t have one food identity. That is the beauty and also the complexity.” By intentionally evoking interest in flavor and ingredients, we could potentially have a fully engaged population who is intrigued by real food and has baseline knowledge about the food system. A generation that can cook will raise the awareness that we need in order to prioritize what is important for the environment, our communities and ourselves.

You can view all of the videos from the New York Times’ Food for Tomorrow Conference here.

CommunityFood for ThoughtFood PoliticsNews

Clinton Global Initiative – Call to Action

By Raquel Jacquez | October 8, 2015


During last month’s Clinton Global Initiative, Marcus joined a panel of experts to discuss the role of food and nutrition in global poverty and specifically, how chefs might be catalysts for change.

Poverty in America, as Marcus puts it, affects people differently than it does in his home country of Ethiopia. In America, we have extreme wealth that disconnects us from our food because cooking with real ingredients is expensive and perceived as inefficient in our busy lives. However, if we take the time to learn how to cook, he argues, everyone in the community will benefit. Further, Marcus challenges the audience to cook and eat based on a spiritual compass – meaning, eat things that relate to your own personal history and values. When we eat foods that are whole and seasonal, reusing ingredients throughout the week in order to avoid wasting food and overspending, we are satisfying our palate as well as our spiritual compass.

The strength in Marcus’ approach is his understanding that in order to be successful, we all need the tools to create lasting change in our own lives. Part of the reason that Marcus opened Red Rooster in Harlem was to not just change the restaurant footprint in the neighborhood, but to also highlight the complexities of poverty and malnutrition that exist in his own community. Watch Marcus discuss these issues in the video below or watch more videos from the 2015 Clinton Global Initiative here.

BooksFood for ThoughtMake it Messy

Make It Messy

By Marcus Samuelsson | June 9, 2015

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Make It Messy finally releases today, and I am so excited to share my story with my younger fans that have found a connection with the artistry of cooking. My journey has never been an easy one, I have had my share of obstacles, but giving up was never an option, redirecting certainly, but never giving up. Whatever your passion is in life, or even if you’re still a little uncertain, hard work and determination should always direct your steps. I was not necessarily born into a typical circumstance and expectations may not have foreseen me as part of the traditional grid, but life teaches you to “Step up to the challenge; don’t avoid it. Win or lose take the shot.” You are responsible for your choices, and sometimes it’s worth it to make things a little messy. I hope my life inspires you to dream big and go hard.

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From Farm to Fork

By Marcus Samuelsson | November 4, 2013

Marcus at last year's Farm to Fork event.
Marcus at last year's Farm to Fork event.

Marcus at last year’s Farm to Fork event.

Every year, New York’s Chapter of the Swedish American Chamber hosts a fantastic conference titled “Green Summit, From Farm to Fork – The Future of the Industry” which examines several issues in the world of food and technology. I frequently participate and was able to have a panel discussion with Chef Stefano Catenacci from Sweden about the growing trend of sustainability in the restaurant industry.

Here are some astounding facts we discovered during our conversation:

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Food for ThoughtHealth & Wellness

Bottled, Filtered, or Tap: Rethink What You Drink

By Tawnya Manion | July 29, 2013

Photo: Kristoffer M.C.
Photo: dibytes

Photo: dibytes

When it comes to drinking water, the difference between bottled and tap, in most instances, isn’t much. But as the popularity of the packaged version grows, we must ask ourselves why this type of H2O is often chosen over water that comes directly from the spigot? With misleading names that often depict a serene or “pure” source it is easy to lose track of why we choose to drink bottled water in the first place, but do not be fooled, this version often comes from the company’s local water source.

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Food for Thought

Savory/Sweet Switch: Tomato Tarte Tatin

By Alexandra Fleischman | July 2, 2013

Photo: Alexandra Fleischman

Whether tomatoes belong to the fruit or vegetable families is a debate we’ve all heard before. But, at least they are always treated as a vegetable, making it into salads, sauces, curries, condiments, and pastas. The list goes on. With the exception of a tomato jam, I just haven’t encountered tomatoes used in sweet breakfasts or desserts. (Thinking again, that’s not true: tomato basil sorbet, but it wasn’t very good or dessert-like.)

That is, until Bon Appétit posted their recipe for a dessert tomato tarte tatin. (A savory tomato tarte tatin wasn’t new– add some onions and olives to the tomato mixture, and use less caramel, and this goes well for dinner.) I was intrigued, and so was the blog world. Their reviews were positive, pleasantly shocked. So when I saw beautiful plum tomatoes this week, I knew what I would be using them for. (Although I considered these, too.) Read More


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Meet the Team

About The Team

Whether it’s finding the best goat tacos in LA, spotting a well-worn vintage bag in Sweden, or interviewing the “crab man” selling seafood on a corner in Harlem, we tell stories seen from Chef Marcus Samuelsson‘s point of view. strives to create conversations about food, nutrition, culture, art, and design. We want to find Read More


Streetbird Rotisserie
Marcus’ Bermuda
Eatery Social Taqueria
Red Rooster Harlem
Ginny’s Supper Club
Uptown Brasserie
American Table Cafe and Bar
Kitchen and Table
American Table Brasserie and Bar
Marc Burger