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Citizen of the World: Marcus Samuelsson

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The globetrotting New Yorker, behind Red Rooster and Streetbird Rotisserie in Harlem, gets all his travel advice from locals. Last spring, Samuelsson opened the Caribbean-inspired Marcus’ at the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club on Bermuda.

Let’s play spin the globe—name the one place you’ve always wanted to go.
Peru. I’ve been dying to go. Peruvian food is really popular right now and I’d love to get there.

What’s your spirit city? (Where do you want to return to over and over?)
Tokyo. It’s truly a city where I can discover something new every time I visit.

Do you have a travel ritual?
I always look for where the locals eat, and I like to find the grit in the city.

Samuelsson makes new discoveries with each visit to Tokyo

Do you maintain any routines from home while traveling or does it all go out the window?
I run in every city I visit. I make sure I can still exercise because it’s a great way to fight jetlag, and it’s my morning ritual for clearing my head.

Sorry, you only get to eat one regional cuisine for the rest of your life. What is it?
That would have to be Ethiopian food. I could live on anything with injera bread and berbere.

What one piece of advice would you give to someone traveling abroad for the first time?
Don’t just experience it through a guidebook. Meet people, talk to locals, and figure out your own version of that place.

Describe your travel personality in three words.
Spontaneous, curious, hungry.

Are your trips very planned, or very spontaneous?
I try to make it a bit of both, whether I’m traveling for work or pleasure.

What's the one travel souvenir you'd save in a fire?
My knives that I bought in Japan.

What book/movie most inspired you to travel?
Not a book or movie, but the music of Bob Marley.

Who’s your ideal travel partner?
My wife, Maya.

Which travel experience do you prefer: plugged in or unplugged?
Plugged in. I have family members and employees in all different time zones and I always like to keep tabs on what is happening.

What’s a custom from another culture that you’d love to implement in your life back home?
I love eating dinner late like in Barcelona. It fits in better with my lifestyle.

What’s the first thing you seek out in a new place?
How the city operates in terms of transportation—should I be riding in cabs or hopping on the train?

What’s the one thing you indulge in on a trip that you don’t at home?
I tend to stay out later when I travel. I’m usually a lot more disciplined when I am home.

What’s your first travel memory?
When I was in high school I came to New York for the first time, and it was when I realized that this is the city I need to be in.

>>NEXT: AFAR Insider Tom Douglas

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