More than an honorary position, the celebrity chef will help upgrade team meals among other duties for the major league soccer club.

By Mike Pomranz
Updated April 11, 2019
Pacific Press/Getty Images

Sports teams typically have staff members that help advise athletes on what to eat, be it trainers, sports performance specialists, nutrition coaches, team chefs, or whatever. But when it comes to food, Major League Soccer’s New York City F.C. has just significantly upped their game. The club has announced its first-ever “chief culinary coach” and it’s none other than lauded celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson.

Though the new gig won’t see Samuelsson grinding it out with the team on an everyday basis, it’s definitely more than an honorary position. According to the New York Post, he’ll be creating the menu for the team’s training facility as well as dropping in once a month to prepare gourmet meals for the players — a serious upgrade to cafeteria food they’d gotten used to eating since the club debuted four years ago. Samuelsson plans to celebrate the culinary heritage of the team's players by creating dishes from their home countries which he'll serve at Red Rooster. He’ll also be involved in community outreach, attending things like the Harlem EatUp! festival and events targeting kids and teens such as youth soccer tournaments and healthy cooking classes, Page Six further reports.

Samuelsson, who loves soccer, says he is a big fan of NYCFC, who plays their home matches in Yankee Stadium (for those who aren’t hip to the MLS quite yet). And the chef apparently plays in a soccer league himself — albeit an amateur one with friends down in Chinatown. But in his new position, he sees part of his job as helping the professionals improve. He told The Post that “Every meal counts,” also mentioning, “This is a way I can be part of this journey.”

“I know two things in life: cooking and playing soccer,” he told Page Six. “Everything else is kind of like not my forte … I’m just happy to be part of those two communities. New York City should have an amazing soccer team.” Who knows: Maybe if New York City F.C. goes on to win the MLS Cup trophy, they’ll even let Samuelsson hoist it — of at least fill it with some Red Rooster seafood jambalaya.