Why are you opening Red Rooster in London?
We get an offer twice a week to open a Red Rooster somewhere in the world but we always turn them down. But, growing up in Sweden, London was the first big place for me; I had my first big meal there, at Marco Pierre White’s restaurant, so it’s a special place. Michael [Achenbaum, owner of The Curtain hotel in Shoreditch] asked me if I was interested in doing something together and I said yes. London is such an incredible food town.
Harlem is very different to Shoreditch. How do you feel the area will work with Red Rooster?
Before this project most of my time here had been spent in west London, so I was interested in going east. I went to Shoreditch and started to walk around and it felt right for us. I have a lot of artists and musician friends and Shoreditch has a similar feel to Harlem. A place has to speak to me. Each time I visit London I stay in a different place and walk around and I’ve really got to know Shoreditch over the past three years.
How will Shoreditch Red Rooster differ from the Harlem original?
We’re going to serve some of the food we do at Harlem but we’re also going to create dishes that are unique to Shoreditch. I want to use ingredients that have a meaning in London, so we won’t be serving catfish as we do in Harlem but bream instead, and we’ll be serving herring as well. It will also have a Rooster Taqueria, serving tacos, tequila and beer in cans, which is something we’ve never done before.
What’s on the menu?
There will be our signature dishes such as fried yardbird and meatballs but new dishes for Shoreditch include a duck kitfo with foie gras ganache and herring with brown butter, fermented rice and cured egg yolk. We’re also going to do a snack of chicken scratchings, which is fried chicken skin, which is another dish that isn’t available in New York.
What are you most looking forward to about London?
Spreading my story. How do you tell the story of our food to a Romanian line cook? We’ll have to teach them how to do our fried chicken properly and tell them about the story of broken rice in African food. We’re not making Red Rooster Shoreditch the same as in Harlem but we want it to have the same effect, where people can eat delicious food and feel great. That’s exciting.
Red Rooster Shoreditch will open at The Curtain hotel on 26th May. You can read a full interview with Marcus Samuelsson in the June issue of Restaurant magazine, out on 1 June. Subscribe from only £63 per year!