Cooking in Barbados with Chef Marcus Samuelsson

Che Marcus Samuelsson.
Arthur Bovino

Che Marcus Samuelsson.

"I was one of the first chefs at South Beach when it first started," Chef Marcus Samuelsson noted a few weeks ago during his cooking demonstration at the 2010 Barbados Food & Wine and Rum Festival. "There were about five chefs and we were all looking at each other like, 'How is this ever going to be something?'”

By the end of this festival, the introductory statement by Barbados' Minister of Tourism, Richard L. Sealy, "There's a new player on the scene," indicated there shouldn't be any doubt about the nascent festival's future success. Meanwhile, Chef Samuelsson had his own new venture to discuss: Red Rooster, Check out some highlights below including who makes the better fried chicken, Chef Samuelsson or his sous-chef, and the accompanying slideshow of him preparing fried chicken at the Fairmont Royal Pavilion.


On Local Bajan Food And Dance

"I went to Oistins [a local seafood market and outdoor food court] last night and I saw all the fried fish. Fantastic. And the local dances, they called it the social rhythm. I’ve never seen anything like that. It was fantastic. I was almost daring to jump into the social rhythm. This is what I love about traveling. Especially for me, I was born in Africa, and raised in Sweden and living in New York. Great food, great food experiences can be had all over the world."


On Good Food Being Global

"When I was growing up we were told the only place to have really good food was France. But now with people online more, people realize the secret is out. Great food is for everyone and can be experienced all over the world."


On Red Rooster And Fried Chicken

"We’re two weeks away from opening a terrific place in Harlem, Red Rooster. I’m really, really, really excited about this. There we’re going to cook American comfort food, like fried chicken. I’m a pretty good fried chicken-maker but I’m only the second best on my staff. My sous-chef Michael, we’ve done taste-offs with both of our fried chicken recipes, and he has won every single time. But I’m not giving up on my fried chicken yet because it’s damn good. There are a couple of things that everyone can do to make good fried chicken. There are a couple of things Michael and I agree on."


The Appeal Of Cooking

"That’s why I like cooking, it can be very childish, there’s an element of danger."


On Getting Into Cooking And The Next Hot Thing

"It was Swedish meatballs, that’s what really got me into cooking. I was cooking a lot with my Swedish grandmother. So much of the cooking that we did is now popular and fashionable. I have to smile sometimes to myself because her meatballs could now be served on a restaurant menu. But things always move in cycles, so now that comfort food is so popular I think super, super high-end dining is only a few years away. There are always two trends happening at the same time."


Everyone's A Critic

"There are about four million experts in every city. As chefs we definitely feel it."


On Creating A State Dinner

"State dinners have always sort of been non-American themed, so we started talking about how we could do a theme. And it was like, you know we’re in America, so we started thinking about doing an American-themed state dinner, and wheat would that look like. You know, it’s like, it’s the middle of the recession and when they read this menu all over the world they can be like, “Wow, these were pretty simple ingredients.”

"Michelle Obama had just started this initiative with local schools and kids feeding better. What would be better than to really celebrate the garden? But I wasn’t the only chef going for this. There were about 40 chefs being considered."

"Michael was in Queens, we found out that the dinner was going to be for the prime minister of India. So Michael bought all of these Indian ingredients all over Jackson Heights. It was an Indian inspired meal."

"The dinner that we did was really based on a couple of things. We wanted people to break bread. You know, they’re in this amazing famous building, all these fancy beautiful people, so you start with breaking bread. We did chapati bread and American cornbread. And the second course was really the salad course, directly from Michelle Obama’s garden. Then we did a lentil soup. And the prime minister from India is vegetarian so we did a chickpea dumpling, and collard greens and tomato chutney. And the dessert was based on pumpkin pie with Indian garam masala. And I think that was one of the highlights of my cooking career."

Click Here for Chef Marcus Samuelsson's Cooking Demo Slideshow.