AM: They’re beautiful.
CHEF MS: Yes, they’re golden brown. When you get scallops like this, you want them to be dry scallops and you want to ask for sushi quality grade A. When you do that, you’ll have the best seafood! You also want to buy seafood from the same person because then you’re building a relationship with them and you’re ensuring that you’ll always get the good stuff. Then garnish with a bit of parsley and nuts – which you don’t have to if someone has a nut allergy. If they don’t it’s good for crunch. Then we will use the parsley that we seared up and top off the dish with some of those fresh herbs.
AM: It’s an easy dish to make.
CHEF MS: That’s the key right? We wanted to make the dish flavor forward, but also very easy to make. Jump in!
AM: It’s one of my favorite dishes as I love scallops.
CHEF MS: Yes, it’s scallops and just that idea that it’s hibiscus with that cherry profile. It’s light, bright and a beautiful appetizer.
AM: This is so good!
CHEF MS: Today I’m serving you for free. When you come to Red Rooster, I have to charge you, this is so much better!
AM: When did you realize that you wanted to be a chef?
CHEF MS: Well I cooked my whole life! You know I grew up in Sweden with my grandmother and she was a cook and just to be here 30 years later and to do a craft that I was taught in her kitchen is an unbelievable experience and it’s not a job. It’s something that I am passionate about and feel that it’s a privilege to work with my passion. To be to work with communities and to be able to create jobs for our inner city kids, whether it is through Careers Through Culinary Arts Program, our restaurants, through our festival Harlem Eat Up! and with that, you need partners like Pure Leaf that sees those opportunities to help me create that.
AM: How do you decide what and where your next restaurant is going to be?
CHEF MS: You know those are tough questions for me. First the city has to speak to me. I love New York and you know it’s not just about the city, it’s about the part of town. You know we just opened in Newark a beautiful town that has a strong African American narrative in terms of culture, music, jazz and we felt that it was a place that we thought was important for us to contribute to for jobs and to hire locally.
We always look at the city, we opened the Red Rooster in London which has always been – I mean growing up in Europe, London is your New York. To be able to be there has been a privilege as well. But then again it has been a privilege to be able to do what I love in so many different cities and Harlem will always be home. We have our festival coming up soon and it’s something that we look forward to.
AM: As the producer of Harlem Eat Up!, how did it come about and why is its intersectionality so important?
CHEF MS: I was always a guest to all of these great food festivals whether it was Miami, South Beach, Aspen or New York. And then I thought, wait a minute, Harlem is such an incredibly rich community in terms of culture and rich history. The chefs there deserve to also be able to tell their story and the food festival has been able to tell that story!
With that, to do it because half of our Harlem Eat Up! is for free, and we can’t do it without sponsors like Pure Leaf, whether it’s to help set the table for Valentine’s Day or whether it’s to set the table for a food festival.