Marcus Samuelsson born Kassahun Tsegie January 25, 1970 in Ethiopia.The critically acclaimed chef rose to prominence in New York for his cooking at Aquavit, the Scandinavian fine-dining destination, and owns two additional restaurants in New York: the casual AQ Café, at Scandinavia House, and the Japanese-American fusion restaurant, Riingo.
Marcus Samuelsson, chef and co-owner of Restaurant Aquavit, has received more accolades than most chefs receive in a lifetime: He was the youngest chef ever to receive a three-star restaurant review from The New York Times from Ruth Reichl in 1995. In May of 2001, Aquavit was awarded another excellent, three-star review from The New York Times’ restaurant critic William Grimes. In 2003, Samuelsson received the great honor of “Best Chef: New York City” from the James Beard Foundation. In 1999, the James Beard Foundation also honored him as best “Rising Star Chef.” Samuelsson is proud of Aquavit’s consecutive four-star ratings in Forbes’ annual “All-Star Eateries” feature. He was individually recognized in Crain’s New York Business’ annual “40 Under 40” at age 29; and was celebrated as one of “The Great Chefs of America” by The Culinary Institute of America. Most recently, Samuelsson has been recognized by the World Economic Forum as one of the “Global Leaders for Tomorrow” (GLT). The award, given out annually since 1993, recognizes young innovators from all corners of the world in the arenas of business, government, civil society, the arts and media. Both Samuelsson’s talent in the kitchen as well as his successful business achievements continue to be recognized locally, nationally and globally.
In 1973, three-year-old Samuelsson was orphaned when his parents fell victim to a tuberculosis epidemic that raged through his Ethiopian homeland. He and his sister found refuge at a Swedish field hospital in nearby Addis Ababa, where they were taken in by a nurse who arranged for their adoption by a young Swedish couple from Göteborg, Sweden. Samuelsson describes his childhood on the West Coast of Sweden as an idyllic time spent with family and close friends. At a young age, he also discovered his passion for cooking alongside his grandmother, who was a professional cook. He started to learn how to cook at the age of six or seven. He studied at the Culinary Institute in Gotenborg and at various places in Switzerland and Austria before taking an eight-month internship at Aquavit in New York City. He then took a position at Georges Blanc in Lyon, France, a three-star Michelin restaurant. At twenty-four, Marcus became Executive Chef of Aquavit and received a three-star rating from the New York Times.
"My first inspiration came from my grandmother. As I learned more, I always went back to her because of her passion. Also, early on she always questioned me to make sure that this is what I really wanted to do."
Samuelsson also has been featured in numerous publications including Gourmet, USA Today, Food & Wine, The New York Times, and Bon Appetit, and has appeared on ABC's Good Morning America, The View and LIVE with Regis & Kelly, NBC's TODAY show, Martha Stewart Living Television, CNN, The Food Network, UPN's The Iron Chef USA, and several New York City-based television programs. He was the third chef ever to write for The New York Times Chef's Column, and is a contributing editor to Savoy magazine.
On the philanthropic front, Marcus also dedicates his time and talent to the Careers Through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP), a non-profit organization that provides inner-city high school students with training, scholarships and jobs in the restaurant and food service industry. Samuelsson serves on C-CAP's Board of Directors and as the restaurant chairperson for the annual spring benefit. As a nod to his efforts in supporting young talent in his homeland, he has been appointed a visiting professor at the Ume University School of Restaurant and Culinary Arts.