The Curtain hotel and members' club will open in 2016 on Curtain Road in Shoreditch and Marcus Samuelsson, most notably of Red Rooster in Harlem, will oversee the restaurant. Having trained in Sweden, Switzerland and France, Marcus worked at Aquavit in New York where at 23 he became the youngest chef to be awarded three stars from The New York Times.
CODE's Louis Fitzherbert managed to grab Marcus for a quick chat about the new restaurant during a special preview dinner at Tramshed in Shoreditch.
Louis Fitzherbert: So, London is you're next big project - can you tell us some details about the new restaurant in Shoreditch?
Marcus Samuelsson: I'm super excited to be part of the Shoreditch and London community at large. I've always been a fan of the restaurant scene in London so I'm really excited to bring something that's really fun, social, and delicious there.
LF: What have been the biggest changes to the New York restaurant scene you have experienced since you moved there back in 1991?
MS: I think the biggest change is the diversity of restaurants and just the type of restaurants that have opened as well as where in the city they have opened.
LF: What’s your opinion on the current trend both in New York, and now in London, for restaurants to be more informal and relaxed in what and how they serve their food?
MS: Going to restaurants has become so much more social, people want to feel comfortable in the space. When I started, there was a certain dress code, and now that doesn't exist anymore. It's really been ongoing and I think it's here to stay.
LF: Born in Ethiopia, raised in Sweden, apprenticed in Switzerland, Austria and New York and now bringing a restaurant to London. You are well travelled! How has this influenced your approach to cooking?
MS: I learn from all of my travels; by eating the food, going for a run around a city, talking to locals - it's all so important and it's what inspires me.
LF: What was it like being honoured as a guest chef at the White House and cooking for President Obama?
MS: It was an absolutely amazing experience that I'll never forget. It was just a lot of fun to meet the President and First Lady.
LF: Finally, you became executive chef of Aquavit at the age of just 24. What advice would you give young aspiring chefs trying to advance themselves in the industry?
MS: Get as many experiences as possible. When i was coming up, there was one type of restaurant that we all wanted to work in, and that was a Michelin-starred restaurant. Today you can get many experiences; work in a food truck, try all different cuisines and you never know where in the industry you will work and what skills you will need to have. It's all valuable.
The Curtain hotel and member's club will open in 2016.