A celebrity chef, restaurateur, and philanthropist, Samuelsson is the owner of four restaurants across the globe, including Red Rooster Harlem.
Born in Ethiopia in 1970, Samuelsson (neé Kassahun Tsegie) and his older sister were orphaned when their mother died of tuberculosis. The siblings were adopted and renamed by Ann Marie and Lennart Samuelsson, a Swedish couple who later sent Marcus to the Culinary Institute in Gothenberg. From there Samuelsson went on to apprentice in Switzerland and Austria. He landed in the United States in 1991 as an apprentice at Aquavit, a Scandinavian restaurant in New York City. At the green age of 24, Samuelsson was named executive chef at Aquavit, and soon became the youngest person ever to receive a 3-star review from The New York Times. After two successful years as an executive chef, Samuelsson decided to open his own restaurants; he faltered a bit with his attempts at Japanese cuisine with Riingo, and African cuisine with Merkato 55, but he finally found success once again with his foray into American cooking with Red Rooster Harlem.
Samuelsson is also the award-winning author of four cookbooks and the winner of Top Chef Masters. After beating out 21 other world-renowned chefs, Samuelsson donated his $115,000 winnings went to UNICEF's Tap Project, which seeks to bring clean water to struggling countries. Samuelsson is also friendly with the residents of the White House: he was the guest Chef for the first state dinner of Obama's presidency, and in 2011, he hosted a fund-raising dinner for The Democratic National Committee at Red Rooster. The dinner, rounding out at a cool $30,800-per-plate, offered an opportunity to dine in the same room as the president and raised $1.5 million. [Image via Getty]