Lunch with Marcus Samuelsson

July 12, 2010

When his assistant called a couple of months ago to set up the lunch, my first thought was, I wish I had an assistant and my second was, why does he want to have lunch with me? But all I said was, “yes, please.”

I’m glad I did. He’s a thoughtful person, and he’s at such an interesting crossroad in his life. We talked about the restaurant he’s building in Harlem and the online site he’s creating, aimed mostly at men. (An idea, incidentally, that Richard and I tried to sell to Conde Nast about 5 years ago. The point being that men cook differently than women, and there’s potentially a great magazine waiting to happen around that idea.)

But as we talked I couldn’t help thinking about the evolution of the chef. It’s so different being a chef today than it was 20 years ago. The modern chef is not a cook – he’s a brand. And he’s the head of an organization with the potential to be an entrepreneur, author, media personality, millionaire, and charitable foundation all rolled into one. If you had suggested that possibility when I began writing about restaurants, people would have asked what you were smoking.

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