29 Aug Special of the day: Celebrity Chef Bonus Round with Yes, Chef Author Marcus Samuelsson
So many celebrity chefs, so little time… seemed to be the one and only lament my mom and I had at the Food and Wine Classic in Aspen in June. Having been diligent about pre-registering for seminars on opening day, we were fortunate enough to enjoy the crème de la crème, we thought, with our star-studded cast of chef presenters: Giada de Laurentiis, Bobby Flay, Emeril Lagasse, Susan Feniger, Michael Chiarello and Mario Batali.
And what a treat it has been for me to relive each chef’s cooking demonstration each week this summer through the Special of the day celebrity chef series. Truth be told, I was sad to see it all come to an end.
With back to school right around the corner came once again easing into a reasonable bedtime which in turn afforded me the opportunity to reinstate my reading in bed ritual and finally crack open the long-anticipated foodie memoir Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson that my sister-in-law Patty had sent me for my birthday last spring.
Yes, Chef? Ah, yes, please, I say, in response to the amazing life story Samuelsson serves up in his page-turner of a foodie memoir. I will do my best to heighten your hunger while not feeding you too many delicious details so as to ruin your appetite for the fulfilling feast that is Yes, Chef.
Here goes…The series of unfortunate events that mark his humble beginnings in Ethiopia include surviving tuberculosis and a seventy-five mile walk with his mother and sister to a hospital, only to lose his mother to the disease and be orphaned at three years of age.
Miraculously, Marcus and his sister recovered and were adopted one year later into the Samuelsson family who lived in Goteborg, Sweden where his grandmother Momor Helga ignited in him a fierce passion for food.
Hard work, it seems, has always been a key ingredient in Marcus’s recipe for success, of which he has enjoyed a generous portion at a remarkably young age. Paying his dues in ruthless restaurant kitchens in Switzerland and France, on cruise ships and eventually in New York City, Samuelsson became the youngest chef ever (at age 24) to receive two three-star ratings from the New York Times for his work at the famed Swedish restaurant Aquavit in New York City. Following that taste of success, Samuelsson was recognized as James Beard’s “Rising Star Chef” in 1999 and in 2003 was named “Best Chef, New York City”.
Samuelsson has traveled the world “chasing flavors” as he says, writing cookbooks and generally gaining popularity as a superstar celebrity chef. He was the winner of “Top Chef Masters Season 2” and the guest chef for the first State dinner of the Obama Administration. The opening of his Red Rooster Harlem restaurant in December 2010 marks the culmination of his dream to delight his Harlem neighborhood by offering affordable American comfort food classics.
It turns out, my mom and I did in fact have a chance to meet Marcus Samuelsson outside of the Grand Tasting tents one day at the Food and Wine Classic in Aspen. Immediately recognizing him as the flashy dresser he is, I shamelessly asked my mom to snap my photo with Marcus, who graciously agreed and then, smiling at the camera, was quick to tell my mom, “I love your pants!” (Well, they were cute.)
Savor one last bite with this week’s Special of the day: Celebrity Chef Bonus Round with Yes, Chef Author Marcus Samuelsson and recipe for Swedish Pancakes with Orange Butter. Enjoy!
Recipes and food photography by Sydne George
Swedish Pancakes with Orange Butter
Inspired by Marcus Samuelsson (because he’s Swedish, of course).
(makes about ½ cup)
*Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.
Can be made ahead.
½ cup real butter, softened
1 ½ tsp. fresh orange peel
¼ cup powdered sugar
2 tbsp. freshly squeezed orange juice
Using electric mixer, cream butter until light and fluffy. Add remaining ingredients and mix until incorporated. Transfer to small bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
(makes about 18 small pancakes)
1 ¾ cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1/8 tsp. salt
4 tbsp. melted butter, cooled
1 cup flour
Additional butter for cooking the pancakesPreheat oven to 200 degrees. In blender pitcher, combine all Swedish Pancake ingredients, in order. Blend until well-mixed. Heat a small sauté pan over medium heat. Brush melted butter to coat bottom and sides of pan. Pour about 2 tbsp. batter in hot buttered pan and swirl to make a pancake. Cook until edges begin to curl up. Grasp edges of pancake with both hands and flip to cook other side briefly. Remove from pan and transfer to platter. Place platter of pancakes in preheated oven to stay warm. Repeat, making Swedish Pancakes out of the remaining batter. Roll pancakes and serve dusted with powdered sugar and topped with a dollop of Orange Butter. Enjoy!
Sydne George is a food journalist specializing in recipe development, food writing and food photography. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org . Sydne’s recipes from “Special of the day” are archived at http://sydnegeorge.com/blog/.