Celebrated Chef Marcus Samuelsson Reveals the Roots of his Personal Style

By Phebe Wahl | November 21, 2022

This feature is in the October Style Issue. Click here to subscribe.

“My personal style is a mix of several elements,” says award-winning chef, restaurateur, author and co-owner of Red Rooster Harlem Marcus Samuelsson (marcussamuelsson.com). “I wear vibrant colors and patterns influenced by the rhythms of Africa and my Ethiopian roots. I was raised around four women (my mother, grandmother and two sisters) who all gave me a love for vintage clothing,” he shares. “Most of all, my style comes from what my wife tells me to wear! Maya knows fashion and picks out some great pieces for me.”


Marcus Samuelsson in Harlem, N.Y. PHOTO BY ANGELA BANKHEAD
Marcus Samuelsson in Harlem, N.Y. PHOTO BY ANGELA BANKHEAD

Like his diverse menus, Samuelsson cites influences ranging from Sly Stone (from Sly and the Family Stone) to Harry Belafonte. “But I especially love looking at family pictures from back in the day (from both my Ethiopian and Swedish sides),” he shares. “I used to love how the old Swedish fishermen always looked so stylish. Even now, I love how the women in my Harlem neighborhood still get dressed up for church every weekend. I love the influence of the community I live in.”

The celebrated chef is revered for his vibrant f lair with everything he touches—from flavor-rich cuisine to his ultrastylish restaurants. “Restaurants are trending toward open-concept kitchens now, so even the back of house is customer-facing,” Samuelsson says. “There’s a sense of theater to dining out. My personal style, like the style of my restaurants, takes inspiration directly from my surroundings. Harlem has a long history, and being neighbors with people like Bevy Smith and Dapper Dan sets the bar pretty high.”


Marcus Samuelsson in Harlem, N.Y. PHOTO BY ANGELA BANKHEAD
Marcus Samuelsson in Harlem, N.Y. PHOTO BY ANGELA BANKHEAD

“THERE’S A SENSE OF THEATER TO DINING OUT. MY PERSONAL STYLE, LIKE THE STYLE OF MY RESTAURANTS, TAKES INSPIRATION DIRECTLY FROM MY SURROUNDINGS.” –MARCUS SAMUELSSON

This fall the James Beard Award-winning chef will debut Hav & Mar, his sprawling, 5,000-square-foot restaurant at the base of the Starrett-Lehigh building in NYC’s Chelsea neighborhood. “We really took aesthetics into account when we developed the new restaurant, Hav & Mar,” he says. “The artist Derrick Adams took brilliant inspiration from the sea, and chef Rose Noel is leading the culinary team with a fantastic seafood-forward menu. The restaurant is a celebration of the Chelsea community. It’s a place where all are welcome, and we can’t wait to open.”


PHOTO BY ANGELA BANKHEAD
PHOTO BY ANGELA BANKHEAD

Photography by: ANGELA BANKHEAD