Marcus Samuelsson is a world renowned chef, a restaurateur, an author, a television host and producer, a philanthropist, an entrepreneur, a Black man, and an immigrant. He arrived in New York during the rough Giuliani years of the 90s. According to Samuelsson, Guiliani and his administration “did not make it easy for anyone that looked like me. What that did for me was shape me (by trial and pressure) and prepared me for this moment. It prepared me to be the kind of man and leader who dreams largely and works even harder in every area of my life.”
Samuelsson continues, “There are two days that are always in my consciousness, top of mind; The day I decide to move to move to America with $300 in my pocket and the day I became an American Citizen. On the day I became a citizen -no longer a Green Card Holder- an instant fear stopped. No longer did I worry or panic that the movements of my life would result in me dropping or losing my green card and worrying what would happen with my travel and my safety.”
“Americans take the freedom of movement that you are born with for granted and then you add blackness on top of that…(sigh). The laws of citizenship and entry can change at any moment. This used to be a constant fear but now we are living in those times so until you have that card and take that oath at Ellis Island—no matter your success or prominence—you live in uncertainty. For me, these are bigger than any cooking achievements. These are life achievements.” SOURCE ICON MANN
If you ever get to watch the edition of Parts Unknown (CNN) where Anthony Bourdain goes to Ethiopia with Marcus Samuelsson, I highly recommend it. His life story is fascinating. But that not the only reason I chose him for this spotlight. I also love his work with World Central Kitchen, my favorite charity.
While most of us are obeying quarantine which limits the ways we can celebrate black history month, there is one way we can do it. Marcus has a new cookbook out, The Rise: Black Cooks and the Soul of American Food: A Cookbook. You can click the link to check it out on Amazon. (I am not affiliated with the book or Amazon). One review describes the book thusly, “The chefs of the African Diaspora, like Samuelsson, are today’s brilliant innovators, following in the footsteps of the Jemima Code as described by Toni Tipton-Martin, and with the diverse flourishes she captured in her Jubilee. I’ve taste tested a half dozen of the recipes in honor of those chefs, and am a convert to using these spice mixtures. Together, we can all rise!
―Booklist Starred Review
So even if we can’t get out of the house, we can celebrated Black History Month by cooking. Or if your are not a cook, you can enjoy the photos and biographies. It looks like there are only 15 copies left at Amazon, but there are other sites where it is cheaper if you just Google it.