My Workout Diary: Marcus Samuelsson
We got celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson to keep a workout diary for one week.
On the new season of Marcus Samuelsson’s PBS show No Passport Required, which begins airing tonight, he travels across the United States visiting chefs, cooking and, of course, eating. But I’m used to seeing him in a much more local setting: Central Park. I’ve crossed paths with the James Beard Award–winning chef a few times, running the loop in the park. He lives nearby in Harlem, which is also home to his signature restaurant the Red Rooster. These days, Samuelsson seems to be everywhere with restaurants in JFK airport, Madison Square Garden and in Newark as well as his annual food festival Harlem EatUp!. And that’s not to mention, his recurring role as a judge on the hit Food Network show Chopped. His empire extends around the globe, with a number of establishments and his latest venture, Red Rooster Overtown, opens next month in Miami.
I asked him to keep a workout diary for me as he prepared for the debut of the second season of No Passport Required. Read on for his diary.
I ran outside in my local park. I noticed the weather has gone back and forth, temperature-wise, and it felt like spring. Looking around, people had shorts and short sleeves on. It’s very surreal to see this in January, in the middle of winter. I’m still dressed for January. The park was packed between chess players, people doing outdoor gym workouts, and there’s live music playing from speakers. I usually don’t have time for post workout snacks, because I’m out the door between 8 AM and 9 AM. If I eat before, I’ll have rye bread and avocado or fresh fruit.
My body—especially my back and my knees—usually aches after running around with my son, Zion, combined with a heavy workweek and all my workouts. But as a former athlete, there’s something about that pain that feels good because you know you’re being active. I’ll stretch combined with some cardio and catch up on different podcasts; something like The Daily or a Swedish podcast about pop culture.
I ran and split my day’s workout between running three miles and 40 minutes of cardio. I’m still hurting from an old tennis injury during our last trip to Jamaica, so I don’t think I’ll ever be a typical gym guy. The gym is the last resort. I never feel fully comfortable at the gym. I’m comfortable on the soccer field and hearing the chatter around it.
Usually mid-week is my rest day. So I relax and eat good food. As a chef, your hands are always aching, your back is always aching. Even if I don’t go anywhere, I constantly stretch my back and my fingers.
I start some back and forth travel for about five days. If I’m in Montreal, visiting my restaurant, the gym at the Montreal Four Seasons is amazing; it has good equipment and it’s spacious. Last Saturday, my wife and I went to a Russian spa downtown to sweat it out and eat Russian perogies. We watched a Russian hockey league and saw people get slapped with birch leaves during a platza treatment. I’m not into that, but just like to sweat when it’s cold outside.
I thought about what I ate for the holidays and thought about getting it all out. When I run in the park, I am constantly thinking about food, restaurants, new dishes, staff, interactions with different people. Then I’ll think about my cookbook and specific dishes. Thinking through the book while running is my way to get clarity. It’s my downtime to really think things through. I need that negative space for me to breathe.
This weekend was great weather and I ran six miles in Central Park. It felt like spring. I listened to Swedish podcasts, soccer podcasts and music. I feel really fortunate to live close to Central Park and have the opportunity to run the loop.
My Workout Diary features the fitness regiments of bartenders, chefs, distillers, and brand ambassadors.
Interview has been condensed and edited.