marcus-samuelssonTo celebrate the re-opening of Chobani’s SoHo store in New York, Chef Marcus Samuelsson created exclusive dishes inspired by the Greek yogurt brand. OK! chatted with the culinary mastermind to find out how he uses the versatile ingredient in his cooking, which eateries are currently blowing him away and whether or not he’d be up for another season judging ABC’s reality competition The Taste.

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OK!: How did you get linked up with Chobani?
Marcus Samuelsson: I love the brand. I think it’s a fun brand. His (Hamdi Ulukaya, Chobani, founder and CEO)  story is an amazing story and there’s a lot of things we share like coming to America in the 90s and working very hard and then launching a brand that we care about. We also care about delivering great food in the neighborhood. He really believed great yogurt does not have to be about sugars and a lot of things added to it, I think that’s a great message that I really believe strongly in.

OK!: Why do you think Greek yogurt has become so popular?
MS: We’ve changed our palettes in many ways. We’re doing a better job of keeping sugar out and not being completely addicted to sweet things. Chobani show us that—it’s as close to a natural Greek flavor as they could possibly get that doesn’t have a lot of sugar added to it. I grew up in Europe where Greek yogurt isn’t just something you have for breakfast, you have it as a dipping sauce for a snack, you use it in a stew, you use it as a spread. We’re now becoming more comfortable in using it in more ways.

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OK!: What’s the most unexpected way you use Greek yogurt in cooking?
MS: You can use it in many different ways. I use it as a marinade, you can use it in soups or a great stew. Any time you have sour and heat, it always works really, really well. That combination where the yogurt provides the sourness it sort of cuts through all of that heat, I think it’s great. It also can be used as a sweetener if you want to serve a great dessert—just yogurt and fresh berries and a little bit of dark chocolate.

OK!: You’ve won many awards for your cooking, but whose food blows you away?
MS: It’s never been a more exciting time to be a chef. I love a place like Grand Central Market in LA. The real ethnic food you can get at the stalls there—I love that type of food. I think it’s exciting what Ludo (Lefebrve) is doing with Trois Mec, taking fine dining in a different direction where it’s a little more approachable. We’re learning from each other as chefs.

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OK!: How was your experience on The Taste? Did you enjoy it?
MS: It was so much fun. With Tony (Bourdain), Nigella (Lawson), Ludo and also all of the contestants—it was an amazing experience. It’s something I hope I can do again and again and again.

Coconut Chicken and Waffles
by Marcus Samuelsson


For the Coconut Chicken
3 tablespoons peanut oil, plus 4 cups for frying
12 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
freshly ground pepper
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 scotch bonnet chilies, chopped with seeds and ribs removed
2 tablespoons red curry paste
1 cup coconut milk
juice from 2 limes
4 tablespoons cornstarch
4 egg whites
2 cups panko
1 teaspoon salt

For the Waffles
2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup coconut flakes
2 eggs, yolks and whites separated.
1 3/4 cup milk
2 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup Chobani coconut-flavored Greek yogurt

For the Bourbon Maple Syrup
8 1/4 ounces grade A maple syrup
1 1/2 tablespoons bourbon


For the Coconut Chicken
1. Heat 3 tablespoons peanut oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Working in batches, add the chicken and brown on both sides. Remove from pan and set aside. Add the garlic, chilies and curry paste and sauté until golden and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the coconut milk, lime juice, 1 cup of water and return the chicken to pan. Bring to a simmer and cook uncovered until chicken is cooked through, about 10-12 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
2. Combine cornstarch and panko together.
3. Dip chicken in egg whites then roll it in the panko-cornstarch mix. Coat well.
4. Heat the peanut oil in a large, deep pan to 350° F. Carefully add the chicken pieces and fry until golden brown on both sides, about 4-5 minutes total cooking
5. Place on paper towel to remove excess oil. Season with salt.

For the Waffles
1. Preheat the waffle iron according to manufacturer’s instructions.
2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add coconut flakes and combine.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk to combine the egg yolks with the milk, melted butter, and yogurt. Slowly incorporate the wet mixture with the dry mixture, and whisk gently just until blended. Do not over-mix.
4. In a clean, dry bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form, about 1 minute. Gently fold the egg whites into the waffle batter, being careful not to over-mix.
5. Spray the waffle iron with non-stick cooking spray and pour enough batter into the iron to just cover the waffle grid. Close and cook until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes.

For the Bourbon Maple Syrup
1. Reduce bourbon by 1/3 over medium heat.
2. Cool bourbon reduction.
3. Combine bourbon and maple syrup.

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