Marcus Samuelsson shows Alex Ring the latest dish he has whipped up. (Photo courtesy of NYCFC)

New York City FC has named celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson the club’s first chief culinary coach.

A soccer fan since childhood – and a NYCFC fan since the team’s first season in 2015 – the collaboration will see Samuelsson take up an official ambassador role with the club that includes working with the first team and collaborating on community events in the five boroughs.

“As a kid growing up who was set on becoming a professional soccer player one day, I couldn’t be more happy to become a part of this exciting team even if it’s not as their starting striker!” Samuelsson said. “What I love about soccer is that it’s truly global and accessible to everyone, and I appreciate NYCFC’s commitment to growing an inclusive and passionate fan base in our city.

“Like with food, I think it can be a vehicle to unite us all regardless of our differences. I’ve been specifically impressed with NYCFC’s commitment to our Harlem community with their New York City Soccer Initiative, having seen first-hand the benefits of the mini-pitches. I look forward to taking a few breaks from the restaurant to help get the next generation out playing no matter where they live in the city.”

Samuelsson attended a NYCFC training session, where he discussed tactics with sporting director and long-time friend, Claudio Reyna, joined in team drills and played a fun game of soccer tennis with players Anton Tinnerholm, Ben Sweat and Sebastien Ibeagha.

Afterwards, Samuelsson led the players in a healthy cooking class and demonstration in which they learned to make three recipes the chef created for the players. Samuelsson’s signature NYCFC mains – Striker’s Choice (Vietnamese steamed halibut, miso, lemongrass) and The Panenka (chicken breast, apricot glaze, soy) – and two Off-Side dishes (tabbouleh and citrus-mint veggie slaw) will be included in the first team’s monthly menu rotation.

The partnership will see NYCFC and Marcus Samuelsson Group come together on several community events, including this May’s fifth annual Harlem EatUp!, youth-oriented soccer tournaments and healthy cooking classes for local kids and teens as part of NYCFC’s ongoing community work.

Samuelsson also will collaborate with NYCFC players to create new dishes that reflect their home country to be served simultaneously at the Red Rooster in Harlem. He will have a presence at NYCFC games, hosting community members and local youth – including those from City in the Community, the charity supported by NYCFC.