Monday, October 30, 2006


The Soul of A Chef: Marcus Samuelsson Explores the Tastes of African Cuisine

Marcus Samuelsson was orphaned in a tuberculosis epidemic raging through his native Ethiopia when he was just three years old. After finding shelter in a Swedish field hospital, he and his young sister were adopted by a young Swedish couple. 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.

One of my recent culinary regrets is that I never sampled the creations of two-time Beard winner Marcus Samuelson at the Minneapolis outpost of his restaurant Aquavit. Alas, Chef Samuelson has departed these parts to ascend the heights of culinary stardom and Aquavit has now closed and been replaced by some dismal substitute. Of course, he has not been idle, and recently has added another jewel to his culinary crown with the recent release of a welcome tome The Soul of a New Cuisine: A Discovery of the Foods and Flavors of Africa. Samuelson's capacities with cultural cuisine are not limited to the African palate. In fact, he is most regarded for his exploration of Swedish cuisine (Samuelson is Ethiopian-born and raised by adoptive parents.) A review describes the new book thus, "Sharing more than 200 recipes from all parts of Africa, from Curried Trout with Coconut-Chili Sauce of Kenya to Braai Vegetables of South Africa, Samuelsson recounts fascinating stories of his journey across the continent. Beautifully designed in full-color throughout and featuring more than 250 breathtaking color food and travel photos, the book is ideal for readers who would like to explore the free, relaxed spirit of African cooking." I know I'm gonna be cookin' with this one for quite some time.

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