How Marcus Samuelsson Plans To Honor Ethiopia With Second Child

In the kitchen, Marcus Samuelsson draws inspiration from many sources. The James Beard-winning chef and judge of "Top Chef Family Style" recently talked to Mashed about the way his Swedish upbringing comes through in the cooking techniques (like smoking and pickling) that he likes to use, as well as how being an African living in the U.S. gives him a interesting lens through which to experience food from the American South. As he explains on his website, Samuelsson was born in Ethiopia, raised in Sweden, and makes his living in Harlem, New York, where everything from the fashion he wears to the art he sees, to the music he listens to, can inform the things he creates.

But when it comes to the name of his daughter –- Samuelsson's second child, who is due next year –- there is no question about where the chef drew his inspiration from (via People Magazine). "We will be welcoming a baby girl in the new year and naming her Grace Ethiopia," Samuelsson wrote in an Instagram post on Friday, next to a photo of himself, his wife, Maya Haile Samuelsson, and their son, Zion. "Our fellow Ethiopians have experienced such a difficult year, so it means a lot to us to honor and celebrate our country of origin through the birth of our daughter," the chef explained in the caption. "We are sending our joy and light to you and our community. #onelove."

For Marcus Samuelsson, visibility has always mattered

In a podcast interview with People, Samuelsson explained that as a Black chef coming up in the restaurant industry, he didn't see many people who looked like him in positions of authority, let alone as head chefs owning restaurants like the ones Samuelsson runs today. Rather than be deterred, it pushed the self-described "very, very ambitious" chef to work his way up to those roles –- and to then turn around to offer a helping hand to those coming up after him. "I didn't see a lot of women in the kitchen," Samuelsson said, "I made a commitment to make sure that we have 50% women in our kitchen. Everything I did not see, I can now create." It's exactly this kind of energy, spirit, and intention that is reflected in the chef's choice to give his daughter the name of his native country.

As CNN reported last month, Ethiopia is currently navigating the Tigray conflict, a crisis that began with a military offensive in November of last year, but has its roots in generations of regional tension. Thousands have died and over 2 million people have been displaced since the beginning of the conflict (which, CNN reports, "bears the hallmarks of a genocide"), and countries like the U.S. are imploring Ethiopia and neighboring Eritrea to call a ceasefire, before the civil war destabilizes the region. Perhaps Samuelsson's nod to the country of his birth, via his daughter's name, is one small, positive way to bring visibility to Ethiopia's struggle.