Dining Features

The Simple Art of Cooking: The New American Table

Marcus Samuelsson, award-winning chef, restaurateur and cookbook author, was born in Ethiopia and grew up in Sweden where he attended the Culinary Institute in Gothenburg. On Saturday, July 16, Samuelsson hosted the notably successful Dan’s Taste of Two Forks benefit for East End food pantries.

This attractive young man has literally traveled the globe in his quest to become a world-class chef, which he has undoubtedly accomplished. From working in a Michelin three-star restaurant in France, to going from port to port on a luxury cruise ship, he learned the culture, the cuisine and the diversification of flavors of the many places he traveled. For him it all came together in New York City when he apprenticed at Acquavit Restaurant (where at age 24 he became executive chef and co-owner), and was exposed to myriad of tastes right here in Manhattan, U.S.A. Samuelsson loves to play and interplay with ingredients and his exposure to the vastness of cuisine in the United States led to his most recent cookbook, New American Table (Wiley, 2009).

Marcus Samuelsson has contributed much to the culinary world. In 1999 he won the James Beard Foundation award for Rising Star Chef and in 2003 he was named Best Chef in New York City. In 2009 he was guest chef at a presidential state dinner, and in a 2010 TV competition called “Top Chef Masters” he was crowned winner, earning $115,000 for UNICEF’s grassroots efforts. [expand]

Come and meet this singular young man on Saturday, July 23, when Samuelsson will again visit the East End as a participating chef in the James Beard Foundation 20th Annual Chefs and Champagne event at Wölffer Estate Vineyard in Sagaponack.



Farro, one of the first domesticated crops, was a staple grain of the ancient world. It was the standard ration of the Roman Legion and is still a staple in Tuscany and northern Italy.

Serves 4 to 6

1/4 cup chopped blanched almonds

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

2 fennel bulbs, cut into quarters with core intact

1 red onion, cut into quarters with core intact

1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for brushing vegetables

4 garlic cloves

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Juice and segments from 3 oranges, about 3 tablespoons juice

1 head radicchio

4 basil leaves chopped

8 mint leaves chopped

1 1/2 cups cooked farro

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons shaved Parmesan

1. Heat a small pan over low heat. Add the almonds and fennel seeds and sauté until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Set aside.

2. Heat a grill pan over high heat.

3. Brush the fennel and onion with olive oil. Place on the grill and grill for 4 to 5 minutes on each side, or until golden and softened. Set aside. Grill the garlic for 4 minutes.

4. Chop the fennel, onion and garlic and transfer to a bowl. Add the vinegar, orange juice and segments, the   remaining 1/2 cup olive oil, the radicchio, basil, mint, farro, almonds and fennel seeds. Season with salt and pepper.

5. To serve, divide the salad among 4 to 6 plates. Top with shaved Parmesan.



Here, Marcus Samuelsson draws upon the ingredients of Greece, Italy and Tunisia – to prove that you don’t have to make an elaborate dish to get elaborate flavors.

Makes 16 pieces

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon harissa*

Sixteen 1/2-inch watermelon cubes (3/4 cup)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup cubed feta cheese (1/2-inch cubes)

8 thin slices prosciutto, cut lengthwise in half

16 small mint leaves

8 pitted kalamata olives, halved


1. Sprinkle the salt and harissa over the watermelon cubes in a medium bowl. Set aside for 10 minutes.

2. Heat the olive oil in a medium sauté pan over high heat. Add the watermelon cubes and sauté for 1 minute. Turn and sauté for another minute. Remove from the heat and transfer to paper towels to drain excess oil. Let cool.

3. Place a cube of feta on top of each watermelon cube and wrap with a piece of prosciutto. Garnish with a mint leaf and an olive half and secure with a large toothpick.

Can be made up to an hour in advance. Serve at room temperature.


*Harissa is a fiery red pepper paste from Tunisia. Premade harissa can be found at African and Middle Eastern markets, upscale supermarkets, or online.


Above recipes adapted and reprinted from Marcus Samuelsson’s New American Table (Wiley, 2009).


For more recipes, cooking news, book signing dates and Silvia’s blog check out my new website, www.Savoringthehamptons.com. [/expand]

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