By Olia Golovkina
Ethiopian-born Chef Marcus Samuelsson was one year old when tuberculosis took away his mother. He and his sister, once recovered from the disease, fled to adoptive parents in Sweden. Marcus tasted blueberries for the first time. He bought his first Bob Marley album. He began his studies at the Culinary Institute in Gothenburg.
Fast forward to 2010 and Chef Marcus was in New York opening Red Rooster Harlem—a local hot spot where Ethiopian spices come together with Swedish influences for a fresh yet familiar take on fried chicken, barbeque pork, macaroni and cheese—“a place,” he states on his website, “where people from all walks of life break bread together.”
Other restaurants soon followed in Swedish locations: Gothenburg, Stockholm, and Uppsala. But it’s not until 2015 that the chef left both continents for the exotic island of Bermuda. In May, Marcus’ unbolted its doors to the guests of the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club. And even here, amid tropical paradise, his comfort food continues to bring New Yorkers a bite of home.
The resort, a Fairmont-managed hotel, is located at the island’s center and offers top-notch accommodations overlooking Hamilton Harbor. Guest Rooms, Suites, and Fairmont Gold options allow visitors of all tastes to relax in luxury as not only square footage, but furnishings and balcony views, can be personalized.
Here, fun in the sun doesn’t just happen on a beach towel. Jet-skiing, snorkeling, SCUBA diving, and paddle boarding invite guests into the calm aquamarine water, while parasailing and high-speed WildCat powerboats challenge thrill-seekers. For the boaters in the crowd, the Princess Marina—Bermuda’s only full-service marina—can accommodate any vessel up to a super yacht; plus, its on-call catering services mean it’s never too late to arrange that last-minute corporate event or romantic dinner. Even once you’ve exhausted these possibilities, there is still the chance to depart for an organized, all-day excursion to a neighboring island, or a daydream.
But don’t hover for too long.
After sunset the Marina becomes a weekly outdoor salon where champagnes and single malts are tossed around in flutes and rocks glasses, where cigars become salty in ocean wind. And make sure to attend “Marina Night”—a happy hour where the entire harbor area becomes one open bar.
Then again, if you’re in a New York state of mind, Marcus’ is open nightly with its selection of land and sea—as if Red Rooster flew away to Bermuda and fell in love.
The exclusive menu offers everything from Whole Fried Chicken for Two—complete with grits, collard greens, hot sauce, chicken liver butter, and potato—to Jamerican Veal Porterhouse—collard greens, carrot puree, and coconut for the touch of exotica—to Catch of the Day—seasonal and fresh, complemented by Wadson’s Farm ratatouille and grilled lime. In Chef Marcus’ world, Summer Caesar Salad lives on the same page as Coco Ceviche, and a Roasted Banana Donut is as sophisticated as the Chef’s Cheese Plate. In other words, even the ingredients “break bread together,” even on the Sunday à la carte menu.
While you try to wrap your head around this beautiful contradiction, take a look at the modern art now lining the walls of the restaurant—originals by Andy Warhol, Liu Ye, and Nelson Mandela—all part of the resort’s recent $90 million renovation. Maybe you’ll be inspired to make a trip to the Bermuda National Gallery located in Hamilton, just minutes away. Maybe you’ll even return to the resort for an Artful Weekend—a unique package for connoisseurs that includes the finest in lodging, daily breakfast for two, plus two tickets to the Bermuda National Gallery and the Hamilton Princess Art Walk.
On Thursday nights, allow acoustic Reggae performed by the Kings to supply the aesthetic. All of a sudden, Chef Marcus’ first Bob Marley record will enter the spotlight, lingonberries lurking curtain-side, and you’ll be standing in his childhood kitchen—rolling meatballs with grandmother Helga, pickling vegetables, boiling apple jam, and baking ginger snaps.
“Helga is the first to teach me how to cook,” Chef Marcus writes, “I owe her my inspiration and dedicate my passion to her.” And we thank Helga, too, for sparking this passion now thriving at the Hamilton Princess.
For more information: thehamiltonprincess.com