In this episode of Talks at GS, chef and restaurateur Marcus Samuelsson discusses founding Red Rooster in Harlem, navigating the challenges of the pandemic, and reflections from his recent book, The Rise: Black Cooks and the Soul of American Food.
On opening the Red Rooster restaurant in Harlem: “I knew that I wanted to create something in the Black space that had the narrative of African-American history and culture behind it, and creating really unique experiences that were not just around food. That were all the pillars of how we engaged around music, culture, around hospitality and, of course, food. So those were really the years where I shaped Red Rooster. Then once you've narrowed that down, Harlem is the capital for Black culture. It became pretty clear to me that I had to move to Harlem, get experiences from in Harlem and of Harlem. So it was a true, authentic journey.”
On navigating the challenges of the pandemic: “We had to stop everything and then said, ‘You know what,’ we have to convert Red Rooster New York from a restaurant to community kitchen. We partnered with José Andrés and World Central Kitchen, and we served 225,000 meals between March 15th and October 15th. The same thing happened in Newark… same thing in Miami. So, that also allowed me to realize, what does it mean to be a restaurant during a pandemic? The word restaurant means to restore your community.”
This session was recorded on on February 2, 2021.