Many know Marcus Samuelsson, the Ethiopian-born, Swedish-American as an acclaimed chef. He is the owner of beloved restaurants all over-the-globe such as Red Rooster Harlem, MARCUS Montréal, Skyroom Helsinki, and Ama Nikkei Restaurant in Sweden. But perhaps the most endearing thing about him is his calm and cheerful demeanor. And this prominent quality says a lot about who he is as a grounded person, especially when the industry he works in can be markedly rough on the mind and body.
In exuding a natural state of Zen and contentment, I chatted with the globe-trotting chef in Montréal (where he was promoting the culinary talents of his recently opened MARCUS Montréal inside the Four Seasons Hotel) about how he exercises self-care wherever he is in the world.
While visiting Montréal, what are some of your favorite activities that help you relax, rewind, and recharge from being on-the-go so frequently?
(To help clear my mind) I love walking around Montréal – and pretty much the moment I get into town, I like to head out and explore whenever I can. It’s a great city to discover on foot, from little hot spots (Big in Japan speakeasy), street art to architecture. Montréal has these incredible buildings like Habitat 67 designed by Israeli-Canadian architect Moshe Safdie and iconic murals like the one of Leonard Cohen, which can be seen from the restaurant. It makes roaming around the city one of the best parts of being here.
Additionally, I’ll try to squeeze in some form of spa time whenever I can. The Guerlain Spa at Four Seasons Montreal is my go-to and my pick is their ‘Power of Montreal Massage’: it is as effective as it is relaxing. After a long day on my feet and in the kitchen, this deep massage puts me at ease and is the ultimate way to wind down.
What heart-healthy items would you order for yourself and your family at MARCUS Restaurant + Lounge? Why are they a must-try?
I love to start the day with something fresh, light and simple like our Muesli with Buffalo Yogurt and Berries or the Chia Pudding with Coconut Milk, Blueberry, Acai, Blackberry, Banana, and Coconut (they’re not only delightful rainbows of color that greet you in the morning, but both offer great texture and and array of flavors on the tongue that wake you up).
Additionally, our family tends to eat a lot of seafood and veggies (which is so perfect for the hot summer weather), so some of our favorites are Chef Jason Morris’ Turbot with Maitake Mushroom and Grapefruit; the Roasted Tiger Shrimp with Tomatillo, Mint and Avocado; and the Caramelized Koji Portobello with Basil, Aji Amarillo, and a little sour cream (they’re all dishes that provide sustenance and energy – but aren’t heavy in the stomach).
Staying active and fit is a priority for you. How do you make time for it and what do you do?
Growing up in Sweden, playing soccer has always been a part of my life since I was little. I even wanted to play pro, but these days I keep up playing with my friends and in local parks. It’s so fun teaching my son Zion to play, too (by integrating it into my social and bonding times with my son, for instance – it’s a great way to build deeper connections with loved ones – with the added benefit of being able to get some fitness in there). There’s an appropriately named Forbes Field at McGill University which offers great turf for practice.
Now that it’s summer, we also love to swim whenever we can. The Midtown Le Sporting Club Sanctuaire is an upscale Athletic club with a location in Canada and additional spots in the U.S. that offers boutique fitness classes, swimming, private lessons and more. Or to take advantage of the outdoor weather, La plage Jean-Doré is a great urban lakeside beach for swimming, beach volleyball, canoeing, and SUPing (stand-up paddle boarding).
Are there any hidden gems you would like to share with readers?
Le Bird Bar is one of my favorite local spots to wind down at. Fried chicken and Champagne? Yes, please (when it comes to health and wellness, for me – it’s all about balance and indulging sometimes)! It’s always such a fun vibe, especially late at night, and we always seem to gravitate there.