Marcus Samuelsson: New American Table is filled with over 300 recipes and photos focusing on the discussion of diversity within American cuisine. The title and the concept of the book were inspired by the immigrant story of American foods and it’s a book filled with diverse recipes by a diverse nation.
LFC: What utensil could you not cook without?
MS: You always need a great pan, a spatula that can handle even delicate fish and a good, sharp knife.
LFC: When you're not wearing chef's whites, what designer or clothing are you comfortable wearing?
MS: My style is a mixed bag. I love labels like ISAIA and Valentino as well as Nudie Jeans from Sweden. I especially love vintage clothes because they offer a history from a different era and I appreciate the opportunity to be able to mix up the old with the new.
LFC: Favorite places in the world you like to go for inspiration?
MS: I like downtown Los Angeles a lot. Internationally, I go to South Africa and Singapore for inspiration.
LFC: Which chefs do you admire?
MS: I admire many chefs because I understand how much hard work it takes to do what we do. I really look up to Leah Chase from New Orleans and all of the chefs the world doesn’t know because they are the ones who make the profession what it is, they give it its heart.
LFC: How does Chicago cuisine stock up against other foodie cities like NY, LA, and Paris?
MS: Chicago is just as world-class as New York City and definitely more diverse than Paris.
LFC: Favorite place to dine out in Chicago?
MS: Of course, I love C-View. Dining on the rooftop during the summertime in Chicago is amazing. Charlie Trotter’s has made a wonderful commitment to doing American fine dining properly and I really appreciate that. Arun and Avec are also great places.
LFC: Any plans on producing or starring in your own TV cooking show?
MS: I’d love to have my own show, it just needs to be the opportunity where I can do cooking my way. I’m absolutely looking forward to it in the future.
LFC: When no one's looking, what do you like to pig out on?
MS: I’ve always liked a really good burger which was what inspired me to create Marc Burger.
LFC: If you weren't a chef, what would you be?
MS: A baker.
LFC: Most memorable/disastrous cooking experience?
MS: When I was younger, I saved up my own money and traveled to Japan to eat the blowfish. I was broke afterward but very happy. Another was when Charlie Trotter took me to Arun for the first time – very memorable.
LFC: For newbie chefs following in your footsteps, what advice would you give them?
MS: In anything you do, it’s important to work hard and be truly passionate. It’s also important to work with several different chefs throughout your career and travel often so you can gain a lot of experience both in the kitchen and out. Also, work on developing your own point of view in terms of taste yet stay humble.
LFC: When you're not cooking, what do you enjoy doing?
MS: I love to paint and hang out with my wife.