Friday, July 13, 2012


Photo courtesy of Wendy Todd at Cocoa Popps

Wow, is top chef Marcus Samuelsson ever making the rounds to promote his new book Yes, Chef. I didn't want to miss out on all the excitement, so I went with Mike Sorgatz (of the blog Art in Brooklyn) and Wendy Todd (chief pop culture writer over at Cocoa Popps) to hear fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi interview Mr. Samuelsson at PowerHouse Arena in DUMBO.

For starters, I loved the way Wendy went right up to Mr. Samuelsson to ask for a video interview (which he granted!) and also asked Mr. Mizrahi for a mini interview and photo opp. at the end of the formal part of the evening.  Love her courage and forthrightness when it comes to approaching the celebs! 

Wendy, Mike and I sat in the front row, just a few feet away from where Isaac and Marcus were sitting in comfy living-room style chairs with a lamp in between them.  Close enough, in fact, to admire Isaac's glitter-polished toenails and Marcus' uber-fly gold and black Basquiat high tops.(!)

Right off the bat, Isaac addressed the lonely tone of the book and Marcus' life story, commenting to the effect of "You've chosen to devote your life to food at the exclusion of almost everything else."  Marcus did not deny this fact. 

"What would your advice to young, coming-up chefs be?" Isaac asked of Marcus a bit later in the dialogue.

"Love the craft, love the craft, love the craft," was Marcus' response.  And: "Work 18 months in each place and travel for exposure."

Recalling some his own adventures in travel, Marcus shared the time that he went to an underground source for purchasing blow fish with the only cash he had.  Underground, he explained, because when you eat blow fish you run the risk of ingesting poison. "It was a beautiful [kind of] broke", reflected Mr. Samuelsson.

"What inspires you?" asked Isaac of Marcus, to which Marcus replied: "My neighbors, artists, the photographer Gordon Parks, and young people's energy - the kind you see in the people who ride their skateboards to work."

"What are the main components of being a chef?" asked Isaac.

Marcus: "Craftsmanship. Artistry. Authorship.  Manual labor.

Isaac: "What motivates you?"

Marcus:  "There is always more to add to the food conversation."

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