So I told my husband that I was in love…with food…many years before we were married. It came as no surprise to him that I (and subsequently my 3 boys, ages 10, 8, and 2) incessantly peer into the TV screen while glued to Food Network. We constantly explore tantalizing cuisines and never get enough of fare-based reality shows (especially with Kid Chefs)!
I could easily rattle a list of my Top Ten favorites: Bobby Flay, Alex Guarnaschelli, Madison Cowan, Giada, Emeril, Alton Brown, Geoffrey Zakarian, Scott Conan, Guy Fieri, and Gordon Ramsay. However, I must say that I’m most impressed with Chef Marcus Samuelsson. Let me tell you why.
#kidfoodiecomingthrough I’m convinced that affections for food in their purest and most potent form start on the palates of primary students. When I heard Marcus tell his story, I was charmed by his pint-size cooking experiences in the kitchen with his grandmother at the tender age of 6 (cue “awwwing” at 3 yr. old pic above).
Most celebrated chefs that I know have similar stories, and consequently extend to their own children step ladders in the kitchen; tiny, toddler tools, and secret recipes destined to be future classics. I’m an amateur by far, but my boys love to be sous chefs for the day! But with Marcus, he didn’t emphasize that cooking was his only love.
That coveted spot was shared with soccer. He frankly admits that the road he anticipated traveling wasn’t the destination of his destiny. It seems life had other plans. Nevertheless, it was the kindling romance with cuisine as a young man that I found intriguing. Because when the kitchen captivates you once, it leaves a lingering aroma in your heart. Seldom do we forget the fragrances that summon our most delectable memories.
#classroomculinaryadventures So on his journey of dreams unrealized, he still savored the affair that ignited a flame for him. Continuing his courtship with the kitchen, he discovered he could commit to this relationship. Cooking – not merely the science of it – but the fullness, allowed him to create with unique expressiveness; capture the essence and richness of his blended culture; cultivate his untapped artistry, and captivate audiences with an explosion of the senses.
It was liberating. Not only was Marcus elated with his constant milestones, culinary arts afforded him a future changing career path at a critical time when a traditional route of education presented a broadening challenge. Invited to participate in Careers through Culinary Arts Programs (C-CAP), Marcus began navigating a path that would use his talent to propel him around the world.
#hespeakshewritesheteaches Today, he is an unfinished success story, fervently adding new chapters of achievements and epiphanies in his endless adventure. Speaking, writing, and teaching, he is a man after my own heart – the love affair with food a proverbial icing on the cake. Nevertheless, I’m inspired by the passion that drives him to give back to the community that so warmly embraced him.
This highly decorated, internationally renown chef and restaurateur of Red Rooster Harlem is using his power for good. He encourages young chefs of similar backgrounds to embrace the opportunities and lifelong camaraderie of C-CAP programs throughout the nation. He advocates on their behalf, spreading awareness of their existence and esteeming their impact in his life.
His writing is prolific, not only entailing recipes that compel you to taste his world, but coaxing you to delve into your own delicious adventures, cautioning you to learn from pitfalls of his own. Did I mention that he teaches? See instructional video here to tap into your inner chef!
#iminlove As a parent and educator, I marvel at the resounding impact that fresh food can make in the classroom at every age. Not just for eating, but for education. And exploration! And inspiration! Having worked at a campus richly blessed by Gracie Cavnar, founder of the incomparable Recipe for Success program, I know the power-wielding passion that children can experience, even when dubbed socio-economically challenged. Food doesn’t care what your status is.
I am now working with under-privileged high schoolers; those who struggle with traditional education – like someone else I know – but, one of the special parts of their program – involves culinary arts. I think they’ve got the right idea. I believe Marcus would think so, and I’m in love with the vision of transforming the lives of others through the power and passion of cuisine.
My friends often joke with me that they know few people who get as excited as I do about what I put on my palate. However, it’s never been a matter of mere consumption. Cuisine is the only medium that we experience with all of our senses simultaneously.
It’s the culturally universal vessel we use to celebrate and mourn at every meaningful milestone: birthdays and bar mitzvahs; showers and shindigs; homecomings and homegoings. It is color and texture, sight and sound. Its aromas awaken our passions while shaping the fabrics of our lives, for in it we weave our timeless stories.
I am pleased to inform you that in his celebration of cuisine, Marcus has also chosen to spearhead a fundraiser for C-CAP, with a goal of adding $25,000 for students who will follow in his path. I applaud his efforts because I know these future chefs will prepare to soar in uncharted territories.
I’m intent on contributing to someone’s culinary adventures, considering I may one day be be among their patrons. I invite you to join me with a donation, as I’ve leaped out in faith and set up my own C-CAP page to help the students who are so much like my own. What a wonderful way to help others pursue their passion – by way of the palate and plenty of promise. Come dine on student success with me. Bon appetit! #pursueyourpassion, #catchyourdreams, #bethe1, #propeltheirprofession