ICE President and CEO Rick Smilow and ICE commencement speaker Chef Marcus Samuelsson stand in front of a sign that says "Enter here for the Institute of Culinary Education Graduation"

Meet ICE New York's Keynote Commencement Speaker: Marcus Samuelsson

The chef, restaurateur, author and television personality has long been a friend of ICE

Turn on your TV, browse the cookbook section of your local bookstore, or search “best restaurants in Harlem” and you’re bound to come across Chef Marcus Samuelsson.

A mainstay in the New York food scene for over 30 years, Chef Samuelsson first made a name for himself at 24 years old. He was the youngest chef ever to garner a three-star New York Times review as executive chef at the acclaimed Aquavit.

Since then, he’s won countless awards, including eight from the illustrious James Beard Foundation, cooked for White House state dinners, and has amassed over a dozen restaurants and eateries around the world under his hospitality company, the Samuelsson Group, including the famed Red Rooster.

Per the Michelin guide: “For all his achievements, the name Marcus Samuelsson will be forever associated with Red Rooster. This Harlem landmark still draws a crowd for its most comforting comfort food that celebrates the neighborhood in which it resides.”

In addition to Red Rooster Harlem and his other restaurants in the neighborhood, Chef Samuelsson also lives in Harlem with his family and is a co-producer for the annual Harlem EatUp! Festival, which celebrates the food, art and culture of the historic neighborhood. His dedication to American soul food and the culture of Black America is also on display in his most recent book "The Rise: Black Cooks and the Soul of American Food."

Related:Marcus Samuelsson on His Most Important Work Ever

Born in Ethiopia,Chef Samuelsson and his sister were adopted by a Swedish family after the death of their mother and the devastation of the Ethiopian civil war. It was through his adopted maternal grandmother that Chef Samuelsson first developed a love for, and fascination with, cooking. This led to his enrollment in a local culinary school, and apprenticeships in Switzerland and France before landing at Aquavit in NYC. Chef Samuelsson chronicled the details of his journey in his best-selling book "Yes, Chef: A Memoir."

While his professional accomplishments are undoubtably impressive, students at ICE have long-benefitted from Chef Samuelsson’s dedication to the next generation of culinary professionals. In addition to visiting campus to speak and answer questions as part of our Meet the Culinary Entrepreneurs lecture series, Chef Samuelsson has held a seat on the school’s Advisory Council, and his team regularly comes to recruit ICE students and alumni at our bi-annual career fair.

Chef Marcus Samuelsson at a Meet the Culinary Entrepreneurs event
Chef Marcus Samuelsson at a Meet the Culinary Entrepreneurs event.

Chef Samuelsson is also a co-chair of the C-CAP (Careers through Culinary Arts) program, which hosts its annual cooking competitions at ICE's campuses in New York and Los Angeles. Winners of the competition receieve scholarships to ICE's professional training programs. ICE President and CEO Rick Smilow also sits on the C-CAP Advisory Council.

Recent ICE graduates and students finishing their externship heard Chef Samuelsson's wisdom and insight into the culinary industry leader at our New York campus commencement ceremonies on May 9th.

Watch the replay of Chef Samuelsson's speech and the rest of the ceremony below.

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