3 Minute Interview: Marcus Samuelsson

The Ethiopian-born, James Beard Foundation Award-winning chef from New York  is hosting an Ethiopian coffee ceremony at 10 a.m. Sunday at  espressamente illy at 123 Battery St. as part of this week’s SF Chefs festival. Details are available at sfchefsfoodwine.com.

Tell me about the coffee event and how it celebrates Ethiopian culture.

The Ethiopian coffee ceremony isn’t a short event; it usually takes up to two hours from start to finish. From the roasting of the beans to pouring the coffee, staying for the whole ceremony tells someone you want to get to know them. It’s a time to break bread and it’s a time of discussion. What I like most about it is that it’s an old tradition that has passed many generations and become a modern tradition as well.

Where does your inspiration for cooking come from?

My inspiration for cooking starts with my journey and where I’ve been all the way to where I live now, here in Harlem.

What are some Ethiopian customs that will be displayed?

The stage … will be covered with wheat grass, fresh herbs and yellow daisies. There will be a woman dressed in traditional Ethiopian clothing seated on a short stool where she will perform the roasting of the green beans over an open flame. The pouring is the most special moment of the ceremony.

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