New show No Passport Required, produced by Eater for PBS, airs every Tuesday from July 10 to August 14. Hosted by renowned chef Marcus Samuelsson, each episode dives into a different immigrant food culture in six cities — from Detroit to Miami — across the United States. Through food, Samuelsson hopes to share stories of American culture and how immigrant traditions have influenced the way we all eat today.
In episode one, Samuelsson goes to Detroit and Dearborn to learn about the diverse Middle Eastern community in the area and how it’s influenced the surrounding region. Then, in New Orleans, he talks to multiple generations of Vietnamese chefs about their culinary contributions to the city, and how these food traditions have truly become a part of the multicultural city. 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 and Caribbean roots and incorporated those influences into its customs and cuisine. In Chicago, Samuelsson ventures into the city’s Mexican neighborhoods and discovers their impact on the area’s food and cultural landscape. Then, going beyond the borders of South Beach, he meets with members of Miami’s proud Haitian community. And finally, in Washington, D.C., Samuelsson explores Little Ethiopia and celebrates his own heritage through cooking, dance, and coffee. See a full press release on PBS.
The six episodes air at 9 p.m. EDT on Tuesdays starting July 10, and will be available for streaming online on Eater and PBS at the same time. The final episode of the season airs on Tuesday, August 14, at 8 p.m EDT. Above, watch a trailer for No Passport Required, and here, Samuelsson answers a few questions about the show.
How do you describe No Passport Required?
No Passport Required is a journey across six American cities where in each stop we go deep into the heart of a local immigrant community. Through food, I learn about the traditions and culture of these communities that make this nation so rich and dynamic. It’s not just about where or what to eat, but how people come together around food — that common thread that links us all and defines us, too.
Why did you want to be part of this show? What do you hope it brings into the world?
As an immigrant myself [born in Ethiopia, raised in Sweden, and now living in Harlem] it is a dream to be a part of a show that shines light on the food culture of immigrant communities all around us. I love nothing more than heading to a new city and making my way to a local market or being invited into a family home for dinner. My hope is that the program helps show people how similar we all are — something that I think is incredibly important in our current climate. Through these moments we’ve captured, it’s my hope that people feel connected and invited into a community they may not know.
If you could narrow it down to your one favorite moment — what would that be, and why?
It’s hard to pick just one moment. It’s all the incredible storytellers we met who made the show what it is. A couple of examples of some standout moments are cooking with young chef Tung Nguyen’s family in New Orleans in Episode 2 and making kibbeh with Nahdie Shukr in Detroit in Episode 1. I love both Vietnamese and Middle Eastern cuisines, and I hadn’t had a chance to really cook them in a truly authentic way before. Above all, this show would be nothing without all the people who shared their wonderful stories with me, and I can’t wait for everyone to see this journey.
Can you share something new that you learned that truly surprised or shocked you?
I don’t think I fully realized the extent of the sacrifices that some of these people make. So many of the stories are super powerful and humbling to hear. All of these people are so patriotic and really want to work hard and give back to their communities, and hopefully this show will highlight that. When I think about this moment we’re in, I have these stories in my head. After all, at the end of the day we’re all immigrants.
It’s impossible to create such a show without addressing industry legend Anthony Bourdain, the chef and TV host who died recently. Did he have an influence on you?
Absolutely. I don’t think you can underestimate the impact Tony had showing the world how closely linked food, culture, and identity are. Our friendship meant a great deal to me and all of us in the chef community are still grieving. I was excited to tell him about the show early on and grateful for his support. I will never forget the amazing time we had together in Ethiopia with my wife, Maya — it was a powerful journey that I will carry with me always.
- No Passport Required [PBS]