When Marcus Samuelsson enters a room, he commands attention. Beyond his culinary achievements and sense of style, Samuelsson has a way of welcoming everyone to the table. As the co-host of Top Chef Family Style with Meghan Trainor, the celebrated chef brings his wisdom, flare and enthusiasm to the newest Top Chef franchise. During a recent conversation with the chef, Samuelsson shared a few thoughts on why these culinary proteges prove that the culinary future is bright.
As Top Chef Family Style begins, Samuelsson uses a key phrase when describing these young chefs who are teamed with family members. The term culinary proteges is not an exaggerated one. While their resume may not include James Beard Awards and Michelin Stars, the reality is that these young cooks have proven themselves in the kitchen.
Samuelsson believes that young cooks are part of this cultural phenomenon. As he said, “cooking is part of kids’ lives. Instead of going to sports camps, they go to cooking experiences.” While Samuelsson admitted that he might not have been cooking as well when he was younger, these chefs are appreciating all the experiences that they are offered. Their “knowledge base” is vast and that helps them to bring all the flavor to the table.
Even in recent years, the increase of social media influence on the food world helps to expose many younger cooks to the available bounty. Even some of the cheftestants on the show has loyal followers who crave every recipe morsel.
While food has become such an integral part of everyone’s lives, Samuelsson believes that exposure has helped these young chefs to develop that culinary approach and palate appreciation. He said, “since great food is all around America or even a click away,” these kids can learn and apply all the knowledge that they are gaining.
That knowledge even comes from Top Chef itself. As Samuelsson shared, “some of these kids grew up watching Top Chef with their parents.” All that exposure has made those young chefs the culinary stars of today and tomorrow.
In many ways, Top Chef Family Style serves as a conversation starter for people. Designed to be a family co-viewing show, the dynamic between the young chef and the family member “sous chef” is a visual encouragement to get families in the kitchen together.
Samuelsson agrees with that premise. He hopes, “that the show would inspire families to get in the kitchen and cook together, especially as we’re heading into the holiday season.” Whether it is a family recipe, a new food or just a little kitchen experimentation, the idea is to have fun in the moment. Sometimes that concept flavors the best dishes.
In his own kitchen, Samuelsson cooks with his son Zion. While his son might love to cook, he prefers a more simple food. Still, that idea of cooking with family was something that Samuelsson did with his grandmother. It might not seem like a huge undertaking, but it has lasting memories and impact.
Keeping those family traditions is important. As Samuelsson shared, “that ability to cook with someone in your family helps to keep the old and new moving forward.” That blend of flavor keeps cooking exciting and it doesn’t have to be in a culinary competition.
In many ways, that concept is what brings everyone back to the table. As seen in Top Chef Family Style, food unites ages and backgrounds. Beyond the competing teams, celebrities and chefs can find a common language and love for an amazing plate of food.
As everyone watches Top Chef Family Style, Samuelsson knows that people will be engaged with the fun challenges, guest appearances and other entertaining moments. From the repartee between him and Trainor to the moment when everyone is wowed by the culinary achievements from these family teams, there are plenty of reasons to watch this food television show.
More importantly, each episode might inspire both young and old to open the refrigerator, go to the farmer’s market and get behind the stove. While no chef wants to hear the iconic phrase, pack your knives and go, everyone may want to sharpen those cooking skills after watching.
Top Chef Family Style airs on Peacock with new episodes dropping every Thursday. Marcus Samuelsson is an award-winning chef, cookbook author and restaurateur.