Marcus Samuelsson, Chef-Slash-Artist

I filled my first apartment with bad homemade art, the kind of heavily impastoed paintings and Dada-esque crap a new graduate with too much art history on his transcript would create on a shoestring. Eventually, enough people asked which of my nephews was into finger painting that I threw my color wheel away and stopped painting.

Thank god Marcus Samuelsson never has. I just returned from lunch at his West Harlem apartment, where he showed off his new BlueStar appliances (he’s a spokesperson) and talked about some of his other upcoming projects (his latest cookbook, The Soul of a New Cuisine, will be the first cookbook ever sold in Starbucks this fall; his new line of spices, Afrikya Foods, are arriving in stores; and his Meatpacking District restaurant, Merkato, will open in “Six weeks? Eight weeks?” he guessed). Honestly, though, I was paying more attention to the artwork covering nearly every surface of Samuelsson’s sunlight-filled apartment. I already knew the guy was into art, but I had no idea he was such a serious collector. “This stuff should be in MoMa,” I said to another guest. “I wonder where he buys it all.” “Actually, he made most of it himself,” he replied. I knew Samuelsson dabbled a bit with the paint brush, but this is serious Art. I left the apartment a little jealous of this multitalented chef’s abilities, but more inspired to get back into the game myself. I hope those finger paints haven’t dried out…

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