The Signature Dish Marcus Samuelsson Served To President Obama

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Not only is Marcus Samuelsson known for his extraordinary cooking skills and his restaurant empire, but he is also recognized for his humanitarian work. Born in Ethiopia, 3-year-old Samuelsson had to walk 75 miles to a hospital with his mother and sister to be treated for tuberculosis. Sadly, Samuelsson's mother died, but he and his sister were adopted by a family and raised in Sweden, according to his top-selling memoir "Yes, Chef." Samuelsson has received many accolades for his work as a chef, including being named the youngest chef to earn The New York Times three-star rating and winning eight James Beard Foundation awards as a chef, author, and TV personality, according to his website

Nevertheless, he has used his fame to help others. Some ways he has given back has been through UNICEF with a focus on immunizations and stopping malnutrition for children, according to Food Network, where he appears occasionally on TV shows. He also provided more than 200,000 meals to New York City first responders and those in need during the COVID-19 pandemic from his Red Rooster restaurant in Harlem, in collaboration with the World Central Kitchen organization, NPR reported. 

In fact, when Samuelsson hired staff for Red Rooster, he emphasized inclusiveness and creating a sense of community. Aside from making the restaurant feel like home, Samuelsson also focused on supporting local artists and chefs. Keep in mind, his new book, "The Rise," shares how he has been "driven by a desire to fight against bias."

A meal fit for a president

Perhaps not surprisingly, Samuelsson attracted the attention of former President Barack Obama, for whom he was asked to create a state dinner (via Food Network). Samuelsson created the first state dinner for the Obama administration, during which Prime Minister Singh of India was an honored guest, along with 400 other people. 

So, what do you serve a president? Samuelsson chose to serve Obama his signature dish of short ribs, according to Eater Nashville. The dish contains English-cut short ribs that have been cooked in a sauce made of lemongrass, garlic, ginger, and plum sauce. Those slowly simmered ribs are now on the menu of Samuelsson's restaurant 404 Kitchen in Nashville. Samuelsson said he chose to make short ribs because they could be made ahead of time and are full of flavor and tender, according to People. He also worked with first lady Michelle Obama to create the meal, which took inspiration from Indian cooking, per CNN. Other dishes included potato and eggplant salad, roasted potato dumplings with tomato chutney, green curry prawns, and caramelized salsify with smoked collard greens. In the end, Samuelsson said the short ribs were well-received by President Obama and the whole meal was thoroughly enjoyed (per People).