It’s no surprise that Marcus Samuelsson is drawn to Toronto: The city’s multiethnic mix reflects his own sensibility. The Ethiopia-born, Sweden-raised chef has proven his virtuosic abilities across a range of cuisines. His latest Manhattan spot, Red Rooster Harlem, showcases its diverse neighborhood. His website, foodrepublic.com, covers topics from cooking to food politics. Samuelsson travels to Toronto regularly with his wife, the model Maya Haile, who has family in the city. He shared his favorite finds.
Albert’s Real Jamaican Foods “The name says it all: authentic Jamaican cuisine at a great price,” says Samuelsson of this downhome, often-jammed little spot known for its spicy jerk chicken and stewed oxtail with rice and peas. “I love Jamaican food, and we have a large Jamaican population in Harlem, where I live.” $, 542 St. Clair Ave. W., (416) 658-9445.
Chiado “Toronto has a huge Portuguese community. This is a nice place to get that flavor in an elegant setting,” he says. “The chef, Albino Silva, serves contemporary versions of Portuguese classics. I’d recommend any of the seafood dishes, since they fly in fish from the Azores daily.” Desserts, including a caramel-glazed flan with white chocolate and citrus fruits, “are presented like art.” $$$$, 864 College St., (416) 538-1910.
Rua Vang Golden Turtle “This is the spot for Vietnamese pho in Toronto,” he says. “All my chef buddies recommend it.” Samuelsson goes for the pho topped with tender slices of raw beef and spiked with a bracing mix of basil, chilies, and lime. $, 125 Ossington Ave., (416) 531-1601.
PRICING: $ (entrees $10 and less) to $$$$ (entrees $30 and up). Illustration by Riccardo Vecchio. This story appeared in the September/October 2011 issue.