Few chefs these days are as famous as Marcus Samuelsson, who’s not only proved his culinary prowess for President Barack Obama, but who’s also the man behind Red Rooster, one of New York’s hottest restaurants. All those accomplishments aside, Samuelsson also happens to be one of the most fashion-forward individuals we’ve had the pleasure of meeting, refreshingly unafraid of experimenting with everything from bold clashing prints to vintage suits.
Naturally, it was only appropriate that we chose Samuelsson to be one of our 50 Most Stylish New Yorkers. We shot him in his beloved Harlem, where folks passing by stopped him for autographs and photographs. The chef obliged everyone with a smile, proving that he’s as much of a fixture in the neighborhood as his restaurant.
StyleCaster: How do you define ‘New York style’?
Marcus Samuelsson: Personal. You won’t see anyone dressed like the other in this town.
What’s one of your favorite New York spots?
Is it too easy to say Monday night at Red Rooster?
What’s a style risk you’ve taken—that you’ve ended up regretting?
I was just thinking about my oversized leather jacket that I had in the 80’s. But I don’t think I regret it!
What’s your style philosophy?
You can never go wrong with great vintage.
Whose style have you always looked up to?
David Bowie, Prince, Fela Kuti, Bob Marley … I can list even more.
Tell us about the intersection of food and style.
I think you should dress yourself like you would create a recipe. Add what you want then learn how to edit properly for the best results.
What’s your favorite Harlem moment ever?
Probably the day Red Rooster opened. Keith Richards was the first one at the door.
What has been the most proud moment of your career?
It’s hard to beat cooking for the President.
What’s your favorite dish at Red Rooster?
Has to be Helga’s Meatballs since it’s an ode to my Grandmother.
What’s your favorite thing to cook?
Making Ethiopian doro wat with my wife, Maya.
What’s an easy meal people can make to impress a guest?
You can never go wrong with something on the grill and some beautiful fresh salads depending on what you find at the market. And when you’re having fun and relaxed, guests will inevitably have a great time. That is impressive.
Who are the chefs you respect the most?
Nobu, Jonathan Waxman, and Ferran Adría.
What’s your favorite thing in your closet?
A vintage YSL jacket that always looks good.
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