First look at celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson's new NYC restaurant | FT Globetrotter
FT Globetrotter goes behind the scenes at Hav & Mar with Swedish-Ethiopian restaurateur Marcus Samuelsson and his artistic collaborator Derrick Adams. Samuelsson hopes the seafood restaurant will set an example in the industry for hiring Bipoc (black, indigenous and people of colour) staff and sourcing ingredients from Bipoc producers, while revolutionising kitchen culture and focusing on sustainability
Produced by Niki Blasina and Richard Topping, and filmed by Giovanni Ferlito
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My name is chef Marcus Samuelsson, partner of Hav & Mar right here in Chelsea. Sustainability through a Bipoc, black lens, it's very different for me. It was really thinking about, A, who works here? Who are the leaders and focusing on women of colour at leadership positions.
But, also, who sells to us? Who are our vendors? For us it's really important to work with Bipoc winemakers, work with craftspeople in the industry that was super entrepreneurial but maybe didn't get the spotlight, work with upstate farms, new start-ups. I just want Hav & Mar to be a gathering spot that feels inclusive, whether you're a visitor in New York, whether you're a New Yorker. Hopefully, someone gets inspired by this.
When I started thinking about another restaurant, it really starts with neighbourhood and community. And, for me, Chelsea is one of those epic, iconic Manhattan communities that people all over the world knows about. So to be in Chelsea, to have a true dialogue with the artist community, with the galleries, with the artists themselves gives us another reason to be part of this, right?
So it's beyond a restaurant. We're part of a community. We're part of a place.
Derrick has worked with us at Red Rooster for a long time with his art. With Derrick, it's also about other artists. He works with young talented artists in his studio in Brooklyn and very similar to the way I work and collaborate with young chefs coming up.
We came together to think about what a seafood restaurant could be in the contemporary culture and in a space that is surrounded by galleries and other creative spaces, artists' studios. Marcus and I began talking about family, and ritual, and things that we both felt really strongly about, things that we wanted to be a part of the restaurant. We both were interested in conveying, through the restaurant, beyond the idea of food but the experience surrounding the food experience.
In the conversation that we had, they seemed so magical that I had thought of a image that would represent this idea of mystery and fantasy but, also, joy and entertainment. Yeah, I wanted people to look up and laugh or look up and smile while they're eating. I was really interested in lightness and levitation.
Traditionally, the way I came up through as a wine chef, it was only, yes chef. Now it's more like, maybe chef. It's a collaboration. And I really enjoy that.
Mental health is a big part that we struggle with in our industry. And fine dining very often means that we focus on the guest. But our staff is just completely burnt out.
And that's not a way to move forward. We've got to figure out where staff can have a life where they feel engaged and feel fully members of a community. You can't have burnt out staff and great food.
This is a history where fine dining comes from. And this is a conversation that's happening in London, Paris, Stockholm, and New York City. And we, as leading chefs, have to really drive that forward, and be supportive of that, and figure that out.
The food, really, it's anchored in seafood, in ocean and vegetable forward, sustainability forward, right? So the seafood portions could be about three ounces of animal protein and then lots of vegetables. We want this to be a small plate, maybe, ordering four or five but, also, a feast.
Some dishes are larger. Some dishes are smaller. We want you to have fun with it and order in a communal way.
So we have our seaside waffle, which is a seafood waffle dish, super delicious with shrimp on top. We have this Swediopian, which is cured salmon with berbere. It's all about sharing and enjoying these different bites, these textures, these visuals, these flavour combinations.
It's an open kitchen. So as a consumer, as a guest, you're part of this theatrical performance, right? People work hard. So when they come to your restaurant, they should be all, I can just hang out and watch the show. But it has to be a delicious show.
Red Rooster has given me so much. And it was part of really becoming a landmark in New York City. And I got the team at Red Rooster to thank for that.
And the New Yorkers that embedded on us. So there's a lot of DNA that we take from Rooster. Rooster, this is different. We have many moods. We have different tastes.
And we come from different narratives. We've seen it in music. We've seen it in art. And now we're going to see it in food.
I'm just super excited about Hav & Mar. And when I look and work with this team side by side made me even more excited looking five years from now and seeing the talent. Maybe, some of them moved on. Maybe, some of them opened their own stores.
And to do that and see that the majority will be incredible women of colour shaping New York City, changing it, inspiring other cities to do that, I just think we're going to have a better restaurant community, a healthier restaurant community, and a more delicious restaurant community.