Chef Marcus Samuelsson Hopes to Channel Ethiopian Roots In NYC Marathon

NEW YORK –– In a city with approximately 24,000 restaurants, bars and cafes, you need to be exceptional to shine.

Marcus Samuelsson is a star in this world.

Born in Ethiopia, Samuelsson and his sister, Linda, were adopted by a Swedish couple after their mother died during a tuberculosis epidemic after walking miles to get treatment for her children.

It was in Sweden that Samuelsson discovered his love for cooking, and eventually trained at the Culinary Institute of Gothenburg. In 1991, he moved to the United States and worked as an apprentice at Restaurant Aquavit. Three years later, he was named executive chef at Aquavit and soon became the youngest chef ever to receive a three-star review from The New York Times. In 2003, he was named Best Chef: New York City by the James Beard Foundation.

In 2010, Samuelsson opened his restaurant Red Rooster in Harlem. The following year, he hosted a fundraising dinner for the Democratic National Committee, which President Barack Obama attended. According to the New York Daily News, the $30,800-per-plate event raised $1.5 million.

As one of the most celebrated chefs in America and arguably the most famous black chef in the world, Samuelsson makes a number of television appearances, including as a judge on Top Chef, Iron Chef America, Chopped and The Taste.

On Sunday, Samuelsson will be running his first TCS New York City Marathon to raise money for Three Goats, the charitable foundation he and his wife, model Maya, started to improve the health and wellbeing of children, young women and families in Ethiopia. We caught up with him to learn more about his running background…