Celebrity Chef Marcus Samuelsson gives a nod to mentors that he had the privilege to work with that enabled him to achieve the level of culinary success he has. Their investment now allows him in turn to pay it forward and embrace the next “crop” of culinary talent. The Marcus at Baha Mar Fish + Chophouse and Marcus Up Top chef owner at Grand Hyatt Baha Mar hosted University of The Bahamas Culinary School students at an interactive cooking demonstration in The Kitchen.
Samuelsson, who is in country for a number of activities including supporting his team through the busy season, took time out to host the cooking demonstration to inspire local culinary students, that they, too, can do what he is doing.
Samuelsson, a six-time James Beard Award-winning chef, said he was “excited” to host the cooking class with his Marcus Fish + Chophouse Chef de Cuisine Garrette Bowe, who is herself, a product of the culinary arts program at the former College of The Bahamas.
Working with and mentoring young culinary students he says is a highlight for him.
“I’m a chef that had opportunity to work with mentors, work with leaders and hopefully, students get inspired and can see themselves in Chef Garrett, for example.”
Samuelsson’s class included him demonstrating technique and then the students having to take to the range themselves to whip up their own menu favorites from Marcus Fish + Chophouse – Spaghetti Piccadilly and conch croquette with local ingredients like lobster and crab.
“I wanted to do something that feels locally relevant, having some conch and also something that they can achieve and make; and everyone enjoys pasta, everyone can make it, but with the seafood added into it, it’s local, but it’s also something that they can make,” said Samuelsson.
As the students cooked, Samuelsson walked around and made himself available to the student chefs to answer any and all cooking questions they may have. He reminded them that there is no such thing as a “stupid question” and that the only thing not good thing was if they didn’t ask any questions. In true down-to-earth Samuelsson fashion, he jokingly told the students that he would defer the tough questions to Bowe and that he would save the easy questions to tackle himself.
Shellico Moxey, Jr., a second-year culinary student, was excited to be able to take advantage of the opportunity to learn from and cook with Samuelsson. Moxey said it meant a lot to him.
“When I was notified about this, I was like I get to cook with a celebrity chef, that’s not an everyday experience, so I’m embracing the opportunity with open arms. I want to retain as much information from him as possible and to see how I can apply it to my future endeavors in the field. Honestly, it’s very exciting.”
Leandrea Hepburn, a fourth-year student and student senator for the College of Tourism Hospitality and Culinary Arts and Leisure Management was also excited to cook with Samuelsson.
“It’s more so excitement because we don’t often get to participate in events like this, and this was an opportunity for all of us to come and meet a celebrity chef and to not just watch, but actually participate and learn from him in the process.”
The biggest takeaway for Hepburn was to see how Samuelsson blended his flavors and how he put his flavor structures together.
“I’m focused on the science of food … how to put spices and marry them. My focus is to pick up on his patterns. I read about him … his heritage is Ethiopian and Swedish, so I want to see how that affects his food production,” said Hepburn.
Samuelsson, who is also a C-CAP (Culinary Arts Program) Board co-chair – a workforce development nonprofit that provides underserved teens a pathway to success, encouraged the UB culinary students to, after graduation, continue to stay in touch with their professors. He said chefs always want to hear updates from their students.
“For me, what was so great about cooking school was that I had great teachers and great mentors and chefs that you constantly go back to.”
Annually, C-CAP provides culinary, job and life skills to over 20,000 middle and high school students in seven regions across the United States.
The award-winning chef thanked the culinary school instructors for bring the students to take advantage of the opportunity to dialogue with him.