Marcus Samuelsson's Go-To Market For Authentic Spices

When Samuelsson met up with host Bruce Wallin to record the April 25, 2023 episode of the Travel That Matters podcast, the two happened to be in the Bahamas, and it's no surprise that the discussion of food and travel meandered through many locations, from New York's Yankee Stadium, where Samuellson's Streetbird serves up hot and spicy chicken sandwiches, to the L.A. spot where Samuelsson loves to source spices and ready-made sauces.

Samuelsson is a chef of the world, fusing elements of his Ethiopian roots, Swedish childhood, and extensive travels and exploration of global cuisines. It makes sense, then, that one of his favorite spots in LA is Grand Central Market, which made Tasting Table's list of the best food markets in the U.S. Grand Central Market, which opened in 1917, houses 40 vendors that reflect the city's diversity and the range of cuisines that make L.A. such a hotbed of international foods. 

Grand Central Market is beyond a food hall

Though Samuelsson told Wallin he often visits Grand Central to eat — where you can get everything from fresh urchin to authentic pupusas — he truly loves the place because it's "beyond a food hall." He considers it a quality culinary marketplace, where he shops for "really, really good spices or sauces, ready-made." He also emphasizes the authentic and handcrafted quality of the food and wares served up at the market, calling them, "family-made." Samuelsson calls out the mole sauces in particular, along with the spices, sauces, and vinegars he sources from Grand Central. 

Another of Samuelsson's revelations about the market and other great food purveyors within it is his observation that "wherever there's great food, there [are] great people ... curious people." Samuelsson's enthusiasm for Grand Central Market highlights it as one of those places where you interact with passionate folks, deeply invested in exploring interesting food and the connections it creates among us. 

The traveled chef reminds us that our connection to food isn't just about quality but also people, whether you're trying something new at the downtown L.A. market or enjoying a hot dog with friends at a baseball game. If one puts you in the mood for the other, not Yankee, but Dodger Stadium is just blocks from the spot.