By Eric Sandler
Chef Marcus Samuelsson spent this past weekend in Houston filming for his PBS reality series No Passport Required. Slated to air later this year, the episode will focus on Houston’s West African community and its rapidly growing presence on Houston’s culinary scene.
Houston will be one of six cities featured in season two. The show will also cover Filipino food in Seattle, Italian food in Philadelphia, Armenian food in Los Angeles, Chinese food in Las Vegas, and Brazilian and Portugese food in Boston.
Samuelsson tells CultureMap that he visited a few spots in Houston to complete his tour, including Safari, the Nigerian restaurant that’s operated in southwest Houston for 30 years.
He also dined at The Pass; chef-owners Seth Siegel-Gardner and Terrence Gallivan worked for the chef prior to moving to Houston.
To put a finishing touch on the episode, the show’s producers arranged for a special dinner at Cafeza, the popular cafe in First Ward. Over a meal catered by Chòp n Blọk, the West African-inspired pop up series, Samuelsson led a conversation with a group of people with West African heritage — including Chòp n Blọk founder Ope Amosu, NFL player Fendi Onobun, Aces of Taste founder Ahrif Sarum, and local musician Demola — about the challenges of growing up Nigerian in America, the evolution of Houston’s food scene, Hakeem Olajuwon as a role model, and more. Depending on what makes the final cut, viewers may also catch a glimpse or two of an opinionated food writer.
After dinner, and a brief performance by Demola, Samuelsson sat down for an interview about the show, his perspective on Houston, and what he thought of the meal he ate that night.
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