Chef Marcus Samuelsson Talks Red Rooster Harlem, His New Cookbook + More

Marcus Samuelsson was born in Ethiopia, raised in Sweden, and now makes Harlem his home. He developed a deep love for cooking from his grandmother and gained wide praise as executive chef at New York restaurant Aquavit, winning multiple awards including a James Beard Award, and starring in TV shows including Top Chef and The Feed. He opened the Red Rooster Harlem in 2010, followed by Ginny’s Supper Club, and several other concepts in the U.S. and abroad. A celebrity chef and style icon with plenty of star power, he’s also a New York Times bestselling author. His new book The Red Rooster Cookbook: The Story of Food and Hustle in Harlem is out now.

Chef Marcus Samuelsson

Congratulations on The Red Rooster Cookbook!                                      

I’m very excited about the book — it took four years to write. It’s a follow-up to Yes, Chef, which ended in Harlem and this book begins there. I really love the stories, the illustrations by Rebekah Maysles and Leon Johnson, and the photographs by Bobby Fisher. It’s a love letter to Harlem, the place where I live with my family. The Red Rooster Cookbook isn’t just a cookbook, it’s about stories; it’s a window into Harlem. It’s a window into the neighborhood.

What’s happening in Harlem these days?

I worked with Macy’s Culinary Council to bring a food festival to the neighborhood, Harlem EatUp! There are more restaurants, more jobs — it’s becoming a vibrant hospitality environment. That’s something I take a lot of pride in.

Which recipes from the book are you most proud of?

Our fried chicken recipe, but also the pig ears, the simple catfish; there’s a wide range of recipes for all kinds of cooks. A great cookbook has some aspirational recipes and some you can make in 10 minutes!

If readers make only one recipe in the book, which should it be?

Either the berbere crusted lamb or the fried chicken.

What recipes do people request from you?

People always ask how to do a great chicken recipe. I think that’s because it’s a protein we can all eat, regardless of our spirituality. Roast chicken is a classic.

Where do you eat when you’re in New York City? Continue Reading

Autumn at Bâtard in New York: Wild Game + Friday Lunch Are on the Menu

Bâtard in New York

Any New Yorker worth her or his salt knows that the very best season in the city is fall. The Greenmarket stalls remain chock full of freshly harvested produce, the crisp weather puts an extra spring in one’s step, and, let’s face it, fashions are just better (fall coats and boots FTW!). But also because wild game. At Bâtard. By chef Markus Glocker.

Bâtard in New York

Arguably one of the city’s best restaurants (and, full disclosure, my favorite), Bâtard is just two years young and has earned rave reviews and one of the culinary world’s top honors — a James Beard Award. Glocker and managing partner John Winterman joined forces with restaurateur Drew Nieporent to open the ideal Manhattan restaurant, offering an ever-changing menu of uber-fine food at accessible prices, welcoming hospitality, a lively dining room, a superb wine list curated by wine director Jason Jacobeit, and expertly mixed cocktails from Meaghan Levy, in a Tribeca location that once housed the storied Montrachet. A true “choose your own adventure” dining experience, Bâtard puts the diners squarely in the driver’s seat. You can order two, three, four (or more!) courses. You can eat at the bar. You can recruit Winterman to personally create a bespoke cheese plate. On Fridays, you can have a “fast slow food” lunch (or a leisurely “fast slow food” lunch, depending on how big your appetite and open your schedule is). And this autumn, you can partake of Glocker’s superb wild game dishes.

Bâtard in New York

Winterman says, “When we get into the crispy sweater weather, people miss the foods they haven’t had for months — the squab, venison, root vegetables, squashes, and gourds. We’re excited when those things come back for the season.” Of game meats, he notes, “Even before America really existed it existed on game. The early colonists who came over – you’re talking turkey, pheasant, rabbit, deer – all of these things were consumed.” However, if you’re thinking you’ll order classic preparations of wild game from Glocker, think again. “I don’t want all my game meats complemented with pommes purée and heavy sauces and cabbage. There’s a time for that, but for these specific dishes, I really like to get the flavor out of the actual game,” he says.

Bâtard in New York

Look for New Zealand venison (“It’s a little more lean, more unique in flavor. It’s not as gamey,” according to Glocker) crusted with a pepper blend, and served with field mushrooms, baby artichokes, shaved frozen foie gras, and a seabuckthorn sauce. There’s also wood pigeon from Scotland with beer vinaigrette-marinated vegetables, a bit of yogurt, and black garlic. Naturally lean pheasant is cooked with fat (and, like other wild game products, is thoroughly picked over for buckshot), coated with toasted quinoa, and served with nutty celtuce and bright Cara Cara orange segments.

Bâtard in New York

They are all standouts, but for a first-of-its-kind-at-Bâtard dish, don’t miss the flavor-packed English pie — currently on the new Friday lunch menu. An inviting buttery, flaky crust envelops perfectly seasoned duck and quail and is complemented with pickled mushrooms and a lush truffle sauce. Developed collaboratively, as everything that comes out of the kitchen is, Glocker’s sous chef Ryan Pearson spent a great deal of time getting the pie’s flavors exactly right. Glocker admits, “I think I’ve tasted this thing like twenty times before he decided we were there with the salt, the sweetness, with the poultry we use. Once you bake it and slice it, it has to be right. This is the kind of dish that really showcases how good a chef is.”

Bâtard in New York

It’s absolutely one of the best things I have ever tasted, and wine director Jason Jacobeit concurs. “I am obsessed with that pie. Everything about it. It is the ultimate comfort food yet isn’t heavy; it’s perfect!” In terms of pairings, Jacobeit says, “I find it to be an androgynous dish in that it can partner equally well with either color. For example, I love the dish with earthy, voluminous, classically styled Alsatian Riesling. The 2007 Trimbach Riesling ‘Cuvée Frédéric Émile’ matches the extraordinary, almost carnal intensity of the dish with a rich, textured wine that remains buoyant and fresh thanks to wonderfully bright natural acidity. The truffle sauce and mushrooms amplify the wine’s already earthy personality. Of course, red Burgundy is terrific with it as well.”Continue Reading

Isaac and Amanda Toups on Cajun Food, Southern Traditions + Why ‘Whole Hog’ Is a Buzzword

Isaac & Amanda Toups on Cajun Food, Southern Traditions & Why 'Whole Hog' Is a Buzzword

Just over a week ago, Isaac and Amanda Toups opened the doors to Toups South, a restaurant in the Southern Food and Beverage Museum (SoFAB) in New Orleans. As a museum restaurant, Toups South is tasked with showcasing the flavors and culinary traditions of the South — a tall order, considering the region’s signature dishes range from barbecue to crawfish étouffée and represent countless distinctive communities from Texas to the Carolinas.

Toups South is the couple’s second concept. Toups Meatery, which they opened in 2012, boasts “straight Cajun” offerings like lamb neck, confit chicken thigh, and authentic cracklins. The Meatery helped Isaac win the attention of Top Chef, where he competed in Season 13 (and won “Fan Favorite”).

Now, just days into their new opening, we talked to Isaac and Amanda about real Cajun food — what makes it special, why stories matter, and why people are listening.Continue Reading

Restaurants For Change Unites Chefs Across Canada to Make a Difference

Restaurants for Change

We have all experienced the power of food in one way or another. It brings people together, it fosters community and it nourishes our body and soul, among so many other things. In low-income communities especially, access to healthy food is a significantly transformative force. Organizations like Community Food Centres Canada (CFCC) are not only important advocates for the life-changing power of food but seek to empower communities to work toward a healthy and fair food system. With issues like food insecurity, poverty, and poor diet on the rise, not just in Canada but all over the world, the work they do is more relevant and important as ever. But CFCC isn’t only up to speed with the current state of the food economy, they are in tune with the changing trends within the culinary landscape as well and how they can utilize those trends to make a change.

“As interest in food and cooking has increased, so has the influence of chefs,” says Danielle Goldfinger, fundraising and events manager for CFCC. “People who care about food care what chefs have to say and that’s why it’s critical they lend their voices in support of an equitable food system.”

To this end, CFCC has united 65 restaurants across Canada in 15 cities, from Vancouver to Halifax, to produce their national fundraiser Restaurants For Change. On Wednesday, October 19, proceeds from dinner service at participating restaurants will be donated to support CFCC and other like-minded organizations that bring people together to grow, cook, share, and advocate healthful food for all.Continue Reading