Earlier this summer, Marcus Samuelsson—who runs a fleet of restaurants across North America and beyond, has won multiple James Beard Foundation Awards, and cooked the Obama administration’s first state dinner at the White House—teamed up with Amazon on a special project. The company asked the chef to create seven recipes inspired by the realms and characters from its much-anticipated series The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, which premieres September 1-2 on Prime Video. To get the recipes, just ask "Alexa, show me The Rings of Power recipes."
"I want to translate the enjoyment I have from cooking. We had a great brand, The Lord of the Rings, and a great way to experience it with Alexa. I wanted the recipes to meet the intensity of the space."
“It was just such a joy to work on an iconic series like this,” Samuelsson said. “It was about having fun with it, creating your own world, and knowing that it had to be delicious. Having a great tool like Alexa in the kitchen [can help] you source information quickly and then build that world.”
Samuelsson has been the perfect partner to tap the tastes of Middle-earth’s many different cultures—including Elves, Dwarves, and, yes, Man—and transform them for modern palates. He was born in Ethiopia, grew up in Sweden, cooked in France and Switzerland, and now works and resides in New York’s multicultural Harlem.
Samuelsson says that his process for writing any recipe or a cookbook starts with thinking about the place where it comes from and thinking about people he cares about, “like my auntie or my grandmother,” to develop their character. “You want to be transported into that world, whether that is a Sunday dinner with your family or something out of The Lord of the Rings,” he explained, and added that, with Alexa as your sous-chef, “you can source information quickly and then build that world.”
To be sure, Middle-earth—the world of The Lord of the Rings—varies widely and drawing its culinary map was far from simple. But Samuelsson didn’t shy from the task.
“For me, it’s always about bringing my passion to whatever I do,” he said. “I want to translate the enjoyment I have from cooking. We had a great brand, The Lord of the Rings, and a great way to experience it with Alexa. I wanted the recipes to meet the intensity of the space.”
Samuelsson started by diving into the realms of the characters and then drawing on his own experience. One recipe reflects the world of the Harfoots, the predecessors to the Hobbits. Harfoots were master foragers and the chef wanted to incorporate ingredients they might find while roaming around in the forest like mushrooms, berries, and grains. “Foraging was close to me, I grew up with that,” he said. The resulting dish features roasted cabbage with farro, hazelnut, wild mushroom, and blackberry.
The Mediterranean Sea, another place where he lived, inspired a dessert from Númenor, the island kingdom of Man. That plate blends apricots, almonds, and olive oil cake with vanilla bean crème fraîche. “It’s sweet but not too sweet, delicate, and just the perfect bite after a nice seaside meal,” he said.
Samuelsson delivered dishes that are delicious, but also wanted viewers to have a good time cooking. “When you make a recipe, you think about your audience and scalability,” he said. “When I make a recipe for my line cooks, it’s super-technical. If I make a recipe for the average consumer who goes to the store, they should be able to do it. The challenge was to stick to the storyline, be inspired, and create delicious recipes, and I knew I could do that.”
He is hoping that his recipes will help spark conversations and start communities around the series.
“You want people to post, you want people to talk about it,” he said. “I can see people cooking around this, having dinners, sharing recipes, doing gatherings and it’s super social. It’s kind of fun to have dinners and meals in between [episodes] every week. Cooking is so much about building a community and sharing.
“I’m always interested in what’s coming next and in bringing people together,” he continued. “Whatever improves the experience for the home cook through technology is something I love. Alexa is a great example of that.”
The best way to experience these culinary worlds includes the Alexa-enabled smart display Echo Show 15, which can be mounted in the kitchen, or the Fire TV Stick 4K Max streaming device. Just say: “Alexa, play The Rings of Power,” and you can stream the entire series on these devices. Hear actor Andy Serkis read from the Middle-earth epic by saying “Alexa, read Lord of The Rings: Book One,” free from Audible through Oct. 13. Finally, you can also listen to the series’ soundtrack composed by Emmy-winner Bear McCreary, and other tracks exclusive to Amazon Music by saying “Alexa, play music from The Rings of Power.”
Customers can also explore the recipes on Amazon Fresh and buy the ingredients in-store or online.