A Feast for the Mind: Chef Marcus Samuelsson Consumes Literature with Gusto. (Style)

Article excerpt

FAR FROM THE GLAMOUR AND kitchen clatter of Aquavit, the trendy, uberluxe Scandinavian restaurant in Manhattan, head chef Marcus Samuelsson savors a different kind of delicacy: his beloved books. In contrast to the opulence of his workplace, Samuelsson's simple apartment is adorned with his friends' artwork and well-worn books. He introduces his volumes with exclamations of love. On a battered burgundy chair in the corner of the room, next to an antique champagne holder, he pores over art books, novels and, of course, cookbooks. "Reading is such an essential part of life," he says. "I think it's different when you work with your hands. You don't go to the great universities of America or Europe--it's up to you to teach yourself."

Born in Ethiopia, Samuelsson was orphaned at three when a tuberculosis epidemic ravaged his hometown. A Scandinavian couple adopted him and his younger sister and raised the pair in Sweden, where Samuelsson's new grandmother taught him to cook. …