Chef Marcus Samuelsson, The James Beard Foundation Award-winning chef of New York City’s Red Rooster Harlem and the winner of “Top Chef: Masters” has had a unique journey chasing flavors and identity—from being orphaned at three in Ethiopia, to learning to love cooking from his grandmother in Sweden, to becoming at twenty-four the youngest chef ever to receive a three-star review from The New York Times for his workat Aquavit, to orchestrating the President’s first State dinner at the White House, before opening his newest restaurant, the popular Red Rooster in Harlem, NYC
In his new book, Yes, Chef, a memoir, chefSamuelsson chronicles his journey from rural Ethiopia, where, as a 3 year old toddler he contracted tuberculosis and lost his mother to the disease, to an idyllic childhood in Sweden, to the determination and hard work that took him to the kitchens of some of the most celebrated restaurants in Europe and the U.S., and to the inner strength he mustered as a grown man to meet the father he never knew. Welcome back to Food and Wine Talk, Chef Marcus Samuelsson, as you are getting ready for the book signing at Whole Foods in Coral Gables.
What made you pick Whole Foods for your book signing event?
Marcus, there is not a single recipe in this book but one can actually taste the food you made in your search for refining traditional recipes, whether from Sweden or other countries and cultures. You mention going though your old food journals… do you always take notes when you cook?
How long did it take you to write this book?
What do you hope to achieve by writing this memoir?
Let’s talk about the title. It can be interpreted in many ways… Yes, Chef… Is it a glorious affirmation that you’ve arrived or is it an obedient Yes, chef that refers to the stereotypical tyranical chefs we hear about?
How do you treat your staff?
Who is Nils? And what role did he play in your life?
You were going to be a soccer player but luckily for us you gravitated to food. You credit your Swedish grandmother Helga with instilling in you a love of cooking. How did this happen?
And what about Uncle Torsten, the fisherman?
And then it was Switzerland, France and then New York City. Did you find more freedom of expression in the US?
When I last met you in Florida you were the executive chef at Aquavit, a Swedish restaurant in New York City, and just starting to receive recognition for your work; that was 10 years ago in 2002. Did you ever expect to achieve the fame that you have?
With all the celebrity and with all the projects outside the restaurant; how do you stay focused on food?
Food is changing; no longer do the French rule; what do you see as the future of American cuisine?
Tell us about Red Rooster in Harlem
Do you identify with the black experience in America?
What does your future hold?
Yes Chef A Memoir is a fascinating book that will captivate aspiring chefs as well as the layman for its stories that reach past racial and national divides, its candor and the tapestry of great food that binds it all. Thank you chef Marcus Samuelsson, author of “Yes chef, a memoir” for being with us today on Food & Wine Talk.
Andalusia in Spain is the largest producer of Olive Oils in the world and within that province, the ancient city of Jaen, is known as the World Capital of Olive Oil, because it is the biggest producer of this liquid gold (as the locals refer to it) extracted from trees that can date 150 years back.
When Rosa Vañó returned to her native Spain from the US where she was a marketing executive for Coca Cola, she saw a tremendous potential in her family’s olive groves in Jaen . They had been selling oil in bulk and under other labels. Today, as the CEO of Castillo de Canena Olive Oils in Jaen, not only does she produce and market varietal Extra Virgin OO, but she goes a step further, producing first harvest varietal Extra VOO and first day harvest varietals from Picual, Arbequina and Royal olives that grow in her family’s olive groves.
Castillo de Canena, a family company in charge of the entire process of cultivation, milling, storage, packaging and commercializationis poised to receive a Certification of quality.
“Our family’s special relationship with olive groves and the extra virgin oils began a long time ago. The first documents of the Register of Úbeda date back to 1780, endorsing and confirming the property of the land and the olive groves. Our group has family olive trees in this land, a beautiful irrigable property, the Conde de Guadiana, from which we collective olives that are then used to prepare and subsequently pack the highest quality extra virgin olive oil.
"In those days, our great-great-grandfather continued with the family tradition and know-how, which has travelled through generations and still continues to the present day. In Castillo de Canena, we control the whole process: from the meticulous cultivation of the trees to the moment in which the oil arrives at the sales point. It is this follow-up that differentiates us."
"Our extra virgin oil "Castillo de Canena" takes its name from our family house, a beautiful sixteenth-century castle in Canena, Jaén."
Arbequina: Organoleptic description: aroma of lemon, tomato leaves and olives. Its scent is smooth, fruity filled of fresh olives, green apple and artichoke. There is slight hint of spice, due to the high percentage of poliphenols which makes this oil be very stable. To taste, its first perception is elegant, fluent and sweet with a progressive appearance of a light spice and soft bitterness
Serving suggestion: wonderful on roasted meats, vegetables or salads
Picual: beautiful, intense gold/green color with an herbaceous aroma. Organoleptic description: Scent is midly fruity of green olives and green leaves. Its fragant and quite complex aroma carries hints of balsamic with mint touches and citrus remiders. Well structured to taste and persistent with a good balance of bitterness and spice
Project shows life of farmworkers, ideas for change
Written by Mary MacVean
Monday, 11 January 2010 14:57
As more people consider how and where their food is grown, farms are more in the spotlight. The California Institute for Rural Studies and photographer/writer Rick Nahmias have created an online documentary about farmworkers, growers and advocates for change in U.S. agriculture.
“Fair Food: Field to Table” includes photographs, music, graphics and text in three parts. It aims to look at the problems and some innovative solutions.
Nahmias, the creative director of the project, also is the founder of Food Forward, an organization that harvests fruit trees around Los Angeles that otherwise would be ignored and donates the food to food banks. Read more about it here.