clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Chef Marcus Samuelsson: There would be no American food without immigrants

Brexit forced Samuelsson to rethink his business plan for expanding his franchise in the U.K.

Food is inherently social. So it makes sense that stories and media about food are very sharable, and since they’re sharable, that means that all kinds of people can come to the table.

“There would be no American food without immigrants. I am an immigrant to this country. What happened a couple weeks ago, I cried,” said Marcus Samuelsson, speaking about the immigration and refugee travel ban issued by President Trump at the end of January.

Samuelsson is a celebrity restaurateur and cookbook author, an Ethiopian raised in Sweden, who spoke today at the Code Media conference at the Ritz-Carlton in Dana Point, Calif. He opened his flagship restaurant, Red Rooster Harlem, in New York in 2010. He’s also the founder of and the youngest chef ever to receive a three-star review from the New York Times.

He’d been planning for the past two years to open a Red Rooster in the U.K., but Brexit changed his equation.

“We had planned on having a lot of Scandinavian staff working in London and papers was never an issue, but then it became a big issue. And now I can’t staff the restaurant at all the way I wanted to. It took me three or four months to create a completely different strategy on that,” Samuelsson said.

This article originally appeared on