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Chef Marcus Samuelsson On Eating All Over The World

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Ethiopian-born, Gothenburg-raised and Harlem-settled chef Marcus Samuelsson took the flavors of his international past and infused them into his new memoir Yes, Chef.

Nikki Ridgway got the dish on what he cooks and eats where.

Nikki Ridgway: What do you eat when you're craving a taste of your three homes?
Marcus Samuelsson: For Sweden it's herring -- the perfect combination of salty and sweet. When I miss Ethiopia, doro wat, a spicy chicken stew served with injera bread, does it. And fried yard bird is my New York City go-to. I serve it at my restaurant Red Rooster in Harlem.

NR: You cooked for President Obama at Red Rooster last year -- were you nervous?
MS: Yes, very, but it went well. He loved the corn bread. It says a lot about someone who's traveled all over the world and loves simple, humble food, I think.

NR: What are your favorite restaurants around the globe?
MS: In LA, it's Mozza. There's a great energy when you walk in. I also love the seafood-centric Son of a Gun -- I'm going to guest chef there when I'm in LA for my book tour. In Stockholm I like places like P.A. & Co -- small local brasseries with a real family vibe. In Ethiopia I always go to local kitfo restaurants where they serve warm beef tartare. And nothing beats Tokyo's tempura restaurants -- they cook with such precision so it’s light, crisp and just done right.

NR: What's the best meal you've ever eaten?
MS: Hands down, El Bulli. And my favorite meal this year was my friend George Mendes' tasting menu at Aldea in New York.

NR: Pan-Nordic cooking is very popular right now. Can you predict the next foodie trend?
MS: I want food to move from a trend to just straight cooking. I think the best trend is when cooking is at its highest level and not trendy, it's just there.

NR: Do you have a favorite ingredient?
MS: I was inspired by the complexity of the jerk spice I ate while traveling in Jamaica. It's not just one taste, but a layering of flavors that start soft and hit you at the end.

NR: What's always in your fridge?
MS: Champagne, because you never know when you'll need it, lots and lots of pickles and Ethiopian spice butter. And I always keep berbere spice in my pantry.

NR: What's your most dog-eared cookbook?
MS: White Heat by Marco Pierre White.

NR: And finally, what's the weirdest thing you've ever tasted?
MS: I lost a bet with a kid in South Africa and had to eat a dried bug.