No Passport Required
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This summer, WVIA viewers are invited to join internationally renowned chef Marcus Samuelsson to explore vibrant immigrant communities in cities across the U.S. in the new series, NO PASSPORT REQUIRED. Hosted and executive produced by Samuelsson, this new six-part series in partnership with Eater introduces audiences to some of America’s best flavors, as Marcus explores immigrant traditions and global cuisines that are woven into American food and culture.
Premiering this summer on Tuesday nights, July 10-August 14, NO PASSPORT REQUIRED features musicians, poets, chefs, business owners, artists, community leaders and home cooks who have enhanced the nation’s culture and cuisine. From Detroit, where Marcus meets Middle Eastern immigrants who call the city home, to the Ethiopian community in Washington, D.C., NO PASSPORT REQUIRED showcases how food can bring Americans — old and new — together around the table.
“Sometimes you can stay within this great country we call America and it’s the most diverse place in the world,” said Samuelsson. “We’ll bring viewers on the journey into these amazing communities where we get to go deep into the markets, pull up to the roadside stands and be welcomed into homes — all the places where people share and celebrate food together.”
An immigrant himself — born in Ethiopia, raised in Sweden, now a celebrated chef, restaurateur, author and resident of Harlem — Samuelsson’s personal story brings a particular resonance to his observations as he travels across the country. “I absolutely believe in the American dream,” he said. “It’s inspired people from all over the world to come here. And what would America be without all the immigrants? Not as delicious! Not as tasty!”
During production, Marcus became immersed in more than just fantastic food and exciting new recipes. In New Orleans, he learns how Vietnamese culinary traditions have fully integrated into the fabric of the city, taking center stage with long-established French and African influences. In New York, he’s shown how the Indo-Guyanese culture thrives in a small enclave of Queens, and how this one community has taken the best of its Indian, Caribbean and colonial heritage and incorporated those influences into its customs and cuisine. In Chicago, Marcus ventures into the city’s Mexican neighborhoods and discovers their impact on the area’s food and cultural landscape. Going beyond the borders of South Beach, he also meets with members of Miami’s proud Haitian community.
NO PASSPORT REQUIRED celebrates inclusivity and brings attention to the contributions diverse groups of Americans have made to our country and how despite cultural differences, everyone can come together. “Being an immigrant is something I’m really proud of,” said Marcus. “I’m here because so many Americans opened up their homes and hearts to me.”
Below is the schedule of NO PASSPORT REQUIRED episodes:
“Detroit” - Tuesday, July 10, 9:00-10:00 p.m. ET
Marcus heads to Detroit — home to one of the largest and most diverse Middle Eastern communities in America — to explore its culture, history and food. With a family of Syrian refugees in Dearborn, he shares a home-cooked meal and talks about their proud heritage and overcoming misconceptions. Over Yemeni tea, he discusses the importance of finding community. Marcus cooks with Lebanese-American pastry chef Lena Sareini and learns how to make the Iraqi bread samoon, all before ending the trip at an amazing 700-person wedding.
“New Orleans” - Tuesday, July 17, 9:00-10:00 p.m. ET
New Orleans is known for being one of the most vibrant food cities in America, thanks in part to the Vietnamese community's culinary contributions. With Cindy Nguyen, NOLA's first Vietnamese councilwoman, Marcus learns about the essentials of the cuisine. Alongside Peter Nguyen and Tung Nguyen, he sees how young chefs are taking culinary traditions and translating them for a new, multicultural generation. Marcus takes in everything, from pho and bánh mì to Vietnamese iced coffee, and hears about the impact the BP oil spill and Hurricane Katrina had on the community.
“Chicago” - Tuesday, July 24, 9:00-10:00 p.m. ET
Marcus visits the longstanding Mexican community in Chicago — the second largest in the U.S. — to learn about its heritage and traditions. With muralist Juan Angel Chavez, Marcus eats tacos de cecina and grilled nopales, and discusses the important role meat plays in Mexican cooking. Later, master chef Diana Davila shares with Marcus how she combines Chicago’s local ingredients with the traditional techniques of pre-Hispanic Mexican cuisine at her restaurant Mi Tocaya.
“Queens, NYC” - Tuesday, July 31, 9:00-10:00 p.m. ET
In New York, Marcus learns about the Indo-Guyanese community. This double-diasporic community from Guyana and the Caribbean has roots in India, influences from Africa, China, Portugal, and has now settled in Richmond Hill, Queens. Marcus eats Trinidadian roti and doubles, visits a cross-cultural bush cook, plays cricket and learns how to make a traditional Guyanese chicken curry in honor of springtime festival Phagwah.
“Miami” - Tuesday, August 7, 9:00-10:00 p.m. ET
The history of Haitian immigration to Miami is deep and layered. Food serves as a way for the community to celebrate together and helps educate the region about its culture. From the tropical, tangy soursop ice cream and the spicy, nutty mamba spread to soupe joumou and deep-fried pate korde, Marcus eats his way through Haiti’s culinary classics while embracing the detailed history — and music and art — of Haitians in the city of Miami.
“D.C.” - Tuesday, August 14, 8:00-9:00 p.m. ET
Outside of Ethiopia, Washington, D.C. has the largest population of Ethiopians in the world, so the city feels like a homecoming to Marcus even though he’s never lived there. He visits a market in Little Ethiopia, talks about the spiritual rituals that are so closely connected with the cuisine, enjoys Ethiopian staples like kifto and injera, and celebrates the culture’s traditions through cooking, dance and a traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony.