On the first Monday in May, the Met gala returns to celebrate part two of the “In America” exhibition, “In America: An Anthology of Fashion”—and the menu served on fashion’s biggest night out will once again reflect the theme of American creativity at its very best. Returning this year will be Marcus Samuelsson, the chef and restaurateur behind the selection of 10 rising stars within the food world who put together the menu for the gala last September. “I think that, first of all, the Met gala is such a celebration of craftsmanship in design,” says Samuelsson. “And it’s the same thing with cooking. There’s a lot of craftsmanship and storytelling in food, just like a designer tells a story through clothing.”
This time, however, Samuelsson’s carefully curated lineup will focus on three women chefs who represent the rich diversity of American cooking in 2022: Amirah Kassem, Melissa King, and Lauren Von Der Pool. “We’re spotlighting American food and what that looks like today, but also who was part of building the traditions of American food, so focusing on women chefs was very important to me,” says Samuelsson of his selection of culinary talents this time around. “It’s very collaborative and it’s a lot of fun. When you pick incredible chefs like this, you want their voice to be heard down to every last detail.”
Each of the three assembled chefs will be bringing their own distinctive viewpoint to the table. Kassem, a baker and best-selling author, is best known for her playful, kaleidoscopic desserts, whether served at one of her Flour Shop bakeries in New York and Los Angeles, or as a judge on the food art series Foodtastic. “Her desserts are so much fun—you always know her work when you see it,” says Samuelsson. Adds Kassem: “I am beyond honored to be included in this incredible opportunity—the connection between food, fashion, and art has been my passion for my entire career and this is a dream come true.”
King, meanwhile, has established an impressive reputation for her inventive blend of modern Californian cuisine with traditional East and South East Asian flavors. She has worked at a number of Michelin-starred restaurants in the Bay Area, and more recently created King Sauce, a line of signature sauces. “Melissa is just an incredible chef, very modern and current,” says Samuelsson. (TV food obsessives may also recognize King as the winner of season 17 of Top Chef: All-Stars, where she was also voted fan favorite.) “I’m a Chinese American queer chef that’s been classically trained in French Michelin kitchens, as well as Japanese and rustic Italian kitchens,” says King. “There are many layers to what defines me and my identity, all of which you can feel when you taste my food. I want my Met gala creations to feel nostalgic for what America was, yet highlight the diverse cultures, flavors, and progressive techniques we find today’s America.”
Finally, Von Der Pool has become one of the most exciting voices in raw vegan food today, having previously worked with First Lady Michelle Obama on her childhood obesity prevention campaign Let’s Move. “We are what we eat and really what we consume on all levels, so let us consume love in the form of food, thoughts, and feelings,” says Von Der Pool of her approach to cooking. “This is the real food for the soul!” Von Der Pool has also published a series of books focusing on fresh, locally grown, and environmentally sustainable food. “We went fully vegetarian last time, and it was very successful, so to have an incredible African-American chef working through a vegetarian lens is perfect,” Samuelsson adds.
While the final details of this year’s menu remain under wraps for now, with these three steady hands in the kitchen, this year’s Met gala menu is set to be just as spectacular as the fashion on the red carpet. “It’s a privilege to be able to do this, especially after coming out of such challenging times,” says Samuelsson. “I just want everyone to break bread and say, ‘That was an incredible night out that I will never forget.’”
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