Marcus Samuelsson at Red Rooster.
The Restaurant: Red Rooster Harlem, 310 Lenox Avenue, New York City
Background: Born in Ethiopia and raised in Sweden, Marcus Samuelsson began wowing diners in the early 1990s with his global approach to food. At 24, he debuted as Aquavit’s head chef and has since written cookbooks, won the coveted James Beard “Best Chef New York City” award and launched four restaurant concepts. His latest venture, Red Rooster, opened last December in New York’s Harlem neighborhood, where Samuelsson has lived for the past six years.
The Menu: Red Rooster looks and feels like the melting pot that is NYC. For Latin flavor, try the ceviche, salmon and fluke tacos with avocado. The Fried Yard Bird (local lingo for fried chicken) pays homage to traditional soul food. Samuelsson gives a nod to Sweden with his Grandma Helga’s Swedish meatball recipe— a favorite dish from his days at Aquavit.
Giving Back: Samuelsson believes in philanthropy on a local and international level. He’s served as an ambassador for the global humanitarian relief organization UNICEF (unicefusa.org) for more than a decade. For Samuelsson, orphaned at age 3 after his parents died of tuberculosis, this hits close to home. “I always think, ‘How can I give back?’ ” he says. “I have an obligation that’s larger than myself.”
Chefs Who Give Back: Emeril Lagasse