Marcus Samuelsson, arguably one of the most talented and celebrated chefs of our time, is a star in the global culinary firmament. An exacting cook, Marcus takes time with all the dishes he creates. He may be satisfied with the flavor, but five other qualities must fall in line before he signs off on the final product: quality, texture, aesthetics, temperature, and top-notch raw materials.

Marcus first came to the United States in 1991 as a young apprentice for New York City's renowned Aquavit, and then left after his designated eight-month stint to cook in France at the famed restaurant Georges Blanc in Lyons. He returned to Aquavit in 1994 and has never left. A short time after his return, he became the youngest chef to earn three stars from The New York Times, and the accolades just keep coming.

"The concept for a restaurant is the chef's journey and philosophy," he explains. "All chefs have different means for developing a dish. For me, it could start with something I tasted on a trip, or else I might just get creative with a familiar dish. Some recipes start with a foundation, for example, plain couscous. Then you build on the dish by adding spices, fruit, or meat until you are satisfied with your creation."

His own journey has been fascinating. Born in Ethiopia, he and his sister were adopted by a Swedish couple when Marcus was only 3 years old. He describes his Swedish childhood as idyllic, and when he was a teenager, his serious study of the culinary arts led him to other European countries before he finally landed in the United States. Today, he cooks sophisticated food rooted in the traditional and contemporary gastronomy of Scandinavia.
Excerpted from O, The Oprah Magazine Cookbook. Copyright © 2008 Hearst Communications, Inc. Published by Hyperion. All Rights Reserved. Available wherever books are sold and online via


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