Top Chef Family Style’s lead judge Marcus Samuelsson, 49, has cooked for a ton of famous people, but Michelle Obama, 57, was extra special. “Working with the First Lady was one of my highest honors and privileges,” Marcus told HollywoodLife EXCLUSIVELY on the set of Peacock’s new series. “She’s amazing.”
The Top Chef Masters season 2 champion has been tapped to critique teams of families on their cooking skills. Alongside host and new mom, Meghan Trainor, 27, the duos are mostly one teenager and one adult working together in the kitchen each week until a winner is crowned. Joining each week are guest judges, like season 16 fan favorite Kelsey Barnard Clark, 31, who was on set carefully dissecting the food during the taping.
The Red Rooster restaurant co-creator was thankful for his own quick fire challenge practice when cooking for the famous family. “Just like Top Chef, you want to have a theme,” Marcus revealed. “One time I cooked out of her garden at The White House, for example, and always listen to what is the occasion. If she has a guest of honor who’s a vegetarian, you want to do something that is vegetarian. As a chef, it’s also about providing a special moment for that moment. It’s not just about you but it’s about the guest.”
And it doesn’t matter what the occasion is, either. “I’ve been able to cook for the family a bunch of times,” Marcus added. “It’s all about preparation whether it’s at The White House, a state dinner, my restaurant and every time it’s about respecting the moment whether it’s a state dinner, it’s always a big kitchen. I think you want to respect that.”
While excited to have his turn at the judge’s table, don’t expect Marcus to go easy on the kids because of their age. “I stop judging them as kids,” Marcus said. “I judge the food. These aren’t chefs and they work really, really hard and they listen. They’re like sponges, taking all the information and I’m just proud of them.”
Top Chef Family Style drops new episodes on Peacock every Thursday.