Coffee break: Star chef Marcus Samuelsson takes us on a tour of Addis Ababa

Coffee break: Star chef Marcus Samuelsson takes us on a tour of Addis Ababa | image Credit: semafor.com
Coffee break: Star chef Marcus Samuelsson takes us on a tour of Addis Ababa | image Credit: semafor.com

You may picture conventional business trip destinations like Dubai, New York City, or London.
However, consider this novel idea: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

That’s where famous chef Marcus Samuelsson likes to hang out. Although Samuelsson rose to prominence as the chief chef at the iconic Aquavit restaurant in New York City, he currently leads a group of eateries that includes Red Rooster Harlem. Furthermore, Samuelsson opened the Marcus Addis restaurant in his own country not too long ago.

We recently chatted with Samuelsson for Reuters’ 48 Hours series, and he taught us how to spend a few days in Africa that will never be forgotten. This is a shortened and edited version of the interview.

WHAT I ADORE THE MOST

Addis is a very lively city throughout the day. You can tell that the city is travelling because you can’t help but be drawn between the past, present, and future. I particularly adore how the city’s style, architecture, music, and other elements strike a mix between modern and old. New buildings are seen adjacent to old markets.

There are a ton of young, local artisans that are passionate about Addis’s future and take use of the city’s mix of the ancient and the new to produce exquisite goods. Mahlet Afework, one of my favorite fashion designers, has a store named Mafi Mafi (Guinea Conakry St. & Jomo Kenyatta Ave.), and her creations, which combine traditional patterns with contemporary flair, are truly boosting the Ethiopian fashion sector.

WHERE TO STAY: The Hyatt Regency in Meskel Square is my preferred place to stay because it’s reliable and spotless. It’s near to my restaurant, of course, and everything that’s happening in Meskel Square.

TOP SITE FOR TEAM REUNIONS

I have meetings with the Marcus Addis team every time. Since we’re a new restaurant, spending time here at first will help us get to know one another and the surroundings. I firmly think that the finest hospitality originates from inside, and that involves fostering a welcoming and upbeat work atmosphere.

We may try different foods for our menu while in and out of the kitchen because it’s a terrific location to gather. Being on the 47th level of the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia Headquarters tower (Ras Desta Damtew St.) with a great view doesn’t hurt either!

TRAP FOR VISITORS THAT’S REALLY WORTH IT

Worth the journey is the National Palace (Yohanis St.), a noteworthy cultural institution. When my wife and I visit Ethiopia with our kids in the near future, we will undoubtedly take them to Unity Park, which is home to a fantastic zoo on the grounds of the National Palace.

The Addis Skatepark (Woreda 3 Youth Centre), where the Ethiopian Girl Skaters get together every Saturday morning to showcase their talents, is one of my favorite places. Another lovely location to enjoy nature is the Wenchi Crater Lake (Lake Wonchi), which was once an active volcano. This is a great option for a picturesque day trip.

PERFECT COFFEE SPOT: Since Ethiopia is credited with being the origin of coffee, attending the traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony while in Addis is a must-do cultural experience. It is really different from how we all usually grab a cup to go – only for the caffeine boost – to slow down and experience the entire process from roasting to grinding to finally sipping.

Delicious, premium coffee can be found at Tomoca Coffee (Seychelles St.), Hadero Coffee (Jacros – Salite Mehret Rd.), and Dukamo Coffee (Mafi City Centre Mall, Cameroon St.).

FAVOURITE SHOPPING AREA

One of the nicest marketplaces to visit is Shiro Meda, where you can observe the artisans weaving hand-woven cotton clothing for ladies. I find shopping to be quite enlightening since we never get to see the artisans who create the clothes we wear.

ESSENTIALS

Tej is a honey wine from Ethiopia. Yod Abyssinia (Bole Medhaniyalem Area) is a location where you may have tej with a delicious local cuisine and traditional dance.

A spa treatment at Kuriftu Entoto Resort and Spa (Entoto Park) is an additional luxury. It’s just a peaceful, natural experience with stunning views of the mountains.

BEST SPLURGE FOR DINNER

A great Thai fusion restaurant is The Oriental on Meskel Square. It’s a terrific place to go on special occasions and provides a lovely perspective of the square. To continue the evening, I prefer to go to the Black Rose (Africa Avenue) Lounge. They always have a vibrant ambiance, great music, and a wide drink list.

CHOICE SOUVENIR

On my last day, I always like to visit Merkato, the largest outdoor bazaar, located in the Addis Ketema neighborhood of the Dubai Tera skyscraper, to acquire ideas for my New York restaurant, Hav & Mar. It is heavily influenced by my Ethiopian heritage.

The two essentials that I usually wind up packing for each trip are coffee beans and spice mixes for friends, family, and my personal pantry back home.

BEST REMINDER

For my wife and I, opening our restaurant was a very unique experience. Our relatives travelled from the nearby villages to join us for the inaugural festivities. It’s taken so long to come to pass. It seemed a little strange to be there and take it all in with the team and the community.

Source:
https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/coffee-break-touring-addis-ababa-with-star-chef-marcus-samuelsson-2024-02-13/


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