The Career Marcus Samuelsson Would Want If He Wasn't A Chef

Chef, restaurateur, cookbook author, and community benefactor Marcus Samuelsson has cooking in his blood. As a child, he spent summers with his grandmother in Sweden learning how to make various foods including meatballs (the one dish he thinks every amateur chef should learn to make), apple jam, and cookies (via Marcus Samuelsson's website). He would smoke fish with his father that they had caught themselves. Additionally, Samuelsson was also influenced by his Ethiopian cultural background and began to appreciate the cuisine — which includes dishes like injera – for its spirituality. It was cooking with family in Ethiopia that first made him appreciate the value of community.

"I am inspired by the way the people of Ethiopia lead their lives, and how everyone tries to help one another in the community. Their drive inspires me to work as hard as I can to take the knowledge I have about food and to share it with those who want to learn how to prepare fresh, affordable meals," he says on his official website.

It's no surprise, therefore, that the celebrity chef is investing in and connected with his current community, Harlem, where one of his restaurants, Red Rooster Harlem, resides. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, Samuelsson converted his restaurant into a food kitchen for the residents of the neighborhood (via The New York Times).

But the chef's charitable nature stretches far beyond food, connecting with one special sports organization.

It was Marcus Samuelsson's dream to play soccer

In 2019, Marcus Samuelsson partnered with the New York City Football Club (NYCFC), whose team competes in Major League Soccer (MLS) games. Here, he was named Chief Culinary Coach and got to work both on and off the field, per NYCFC. He discussed tactics, participated in drills, and even got to play a game of soccer tennis with a few of the team's players. The chef also created three specialty dishes for the team, recipes which he taught them how to make during a cooking class.

Through his involvement with NYCFC, Samuelsson not only worked with team players, but also partnered with the team to hold community events including the Harlem EatUp! festival and hosted instructional cooking lessons for young people from the Harlem area, per NYCFC.

The culinary personality's connection with soccer is a dream come true, as he says, in an interview with Food Network, if he wasn't a chef, he would have been a professional soccer player. In fact, his dream of going pro started as early as age 16. However, he was criticized by his coach for being too small. Per My Hero, Samuelsson said this negative feedback only encouraged him to work harder and he became determined to be a chef and a philanthropic member of the community.

As the infamous soccer star Pelé said, "Enthusiasm is everything" (via Brainy Quote). Marcus Samuelsson certainly has enthusiasm in spades.