Marcus Samuelsson's New Restaurant Champions Diverse Producers And Sustainability - Exclusive

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Marcus Samuelsson always has meshed equality activism and fine dining. From simple things like creating a special dish for World Pride Day to benefit The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center to hands-on involvement, such as converting his Harlem restaurant, Red Rooster, into a community kitchen during COVID. His book, "The Rise: Black Cooks and the Soul of American Food," is a collection of 150 recipes honoring dozens of top Black chefs, writers, and activists. There are countless ways Samuelsson promotes underrepresented groups, and his new Chelsea-based restaurant, Hav & Mar, is no exception.

In this exclusive interview, he spoke about the restaurant's focus on sustainability and how he looks to his Swedish upbringing for ideas on running a restaurant with less carbon footprint. He also spoke a lot about his intent to lift up the BIPOC and LQBTQ+ communities by championing farms, wineries, and other services done by marginalized workers.

Recycling ideas from Scandinavia

When asked about his sustainability initiatives at Hav & Mar, Samuelsson explained how his Scandinavian upbringing makes a lot of sustainable applications just standard practice. There is always room for improvement, though, and he told us some of the ways he is upping the ante.

"Coming from Scandinavia, we were recycling from the '80s," Samuelsson said. "It's been part of our lifestyle for a long time. I think about sustainability from many different aspects ... Sustainability could be very seasonal, but also the carbon footprint, working with farmers and people from the northeast and thinking about the carbon footprint and how the ingredients get to us."

"How do we recycle?," he said. "If we have an ingredient, can we use it as a cocktail? Can we ferment it? How is that total cycle when the ingredients get to our restaurant? How do we recycle it into a cocktail, into a sauce, into the fermentation process?" [We also think about] portion size, sticking to three to four ounces of animal protein, also thinking about vegetarian. It's definitely a vegetarian-forward restaurant without being a vegetarian restaurant, 100%."

Thinking globally, hiring and buying locally

Hiring within the community has always been a cornerstone of Samuelsson's business model, and sourcing locally comes with the territory of sustainable business. Beyond that, Samuelsson is exacting in the purveyors and team members he brings on — making sure the LBTGQ+ and BIPOC communities are represented. 

He explained, "when I opened Red Rooster, my sustainability lens there was hiring from the community. That will always be the most important thing — not always in the green space, but what would be the most urgent need in this community? When it comes to Hav & Mar, being in Chelsea, we thought about the fine dining game, it's a high bar to get in. What we want to highlight here is farms and vendors and craft people from marginalized communities like the LBTGQ+ community, but also BIPOC farmers, for example. As we open, we might reintroduce some incredible people that are amazing and doing great work."

As Hav & Mar opens its doors to the public, Samuelsson will introduce patrons to the BIPOC and LBTGQ+ staff members, winemakers, and farmers he works with, including Black-owned wineries on the menu. "[We will have] everybody from Brown to McBride Sisters to O.P.P. There are so many. When we open, we are going to be ready to talk about the totality of it and we will present it on our social and our web content. We can introduce our vendors almost as a passport of meeting craft people."

To celebrate the culturally diverse food and flavors that bring people together, Marcus Samuelsson has partnered with Ritz on a limited-edition cookbook with delicious new recipes and a limited-edition Goldbelly kit featuring a dish from his cookbook. The partnership also includes a Friendsgiving event at his new and already acclaimed restaurant opening Hav & Mar in NYC.