CELEBRITY INTERVIEWS

  • Leaving Your Mark with Celebrity Chef Marcus Samuelsson Posted by Admin

    Chef Marcus Samuelsson

    Adversity has been the prerequisite for success for many in history. That holds true for Marcus Samuelsson who is one of the most celebrated chefs today. Samuelsson has worked at some of the most prestigious restaurants in the world before opening one of Harlem’s landmark restaurants, Red Rooster Harlem, which sits right on the corner of 125th street. The journey hasn’t been easy, but it looks to be worth it. MillionaireMatch got the inside scoop on Samuelsson’s tasty rise to the top.

    At age 3, Samuelsson and his sister were adopted after their mother fell ill to tuberculosis. Her death would take them from Ethiopia to Sweden to live with their new family. Though Samuelsson admits his adopted mom was horrible in the kitchen, it was his grandmother who exposed him to good cooking. “Her cooking came out of poverty,” he said. He had short dreams to play soccer professionally, and soon changed his focus to cooking. From age 16 to his early 20s he traveled the world to learn the art of cooking. “Cooking on the line is brutal. It’s a young woman and young man’s game,” Samuelsson said.

    After finally making his way to France, Samuelsson worked at Restaurant Georges Blanc where people travel from all over the world to dine there. This served to be a very important training ground for Samuelsson.

    Samuelsson made his next stop in New York. “When I came to New York, being the only black person in a room was something I was trained for,” he said regarding the lack of black chefs. “I was trained to be the only one in my room. I was trained by my parents,” he added. Aquavit, a Scandinavian restaurant nestled in lower Manhattan, would be his home for some time. When he was offered the job to be the head chef, he was a little nervous. “It’s a famous restaurant. I didn’t want to be the guy to close it,” he said jokingly. Well he did take the job, and became the youngest chef to ever receive a 3 star review in the New York Times.

    The tragic events of 911 left many devastated. Samuelsson knew a lot of chefs, servers and cooks who worked in those buildings. He began to think of what he truly wanted in life. “I started to think about what am I doing? Is this going to be my life to cook for the richest people in the world every night? I started to think what is it that I can do next,” he said. He then decided to move to Harlem. He set his eyes on opening a restaurant, but he took 7 years to learn the culture of the community.

    “The most emerging markets are inner city America,” Samuelsson said. He wanted to bring aspirations to the Harlem community. “The purpose was to create something to inspire and aspire. The purpose was to create jobs of the trade. We hire from the community,” he said. “I don’t measure a restaurant on how busy it is. I measure it on the reason and the goals I put the restaurant there,” he said.

    Samuelsson offered advice to those looking to make their mark in the restaurant industry. “The value of being a chef is because you want to express something,” he said. “To be a chef you have to have a good sense of ambition and aspiration to always push forward. You have to know yourself, where your roots are and your strengths,” said Samuelsson.

    On your next trip to New York, be sure to head to Harlem for a tasty meal with Chef Samuelsson. Check out their site at redroosterharlem.com.

  • Explore With Luxury World Traveler Founder Gil Antolin Posted by Admin

    Gil Antolin

    Traveling is a luxury that most of us want more of. What if traveling the world becomes your job? Well, that’s what happened to Gil Antolin, founder of Luxury World Traveler. MillionaireMatch talked to him about how he went from losing everything to gaining the whole world.

    In 2008, the U.S. began to feel the consequences of a crashing financial market. Layoffs were high, and large companies were closing. Antolin didn’t have the luxury of escaping the mortgage crash. His real estate company ended as he lost three of his homes. As if that wasn’t enough, this time caused him to lose cars and his fiancé. “I couldn’t control what was happening to me personally and financially. It was one of the most helpless feelings I ever had as an adult,” Antolin said.

    After a push from a friend, to get his mind off of all the things crashing around him, Antolin began to plan a two-week mission trip to Uganda. “Being in Africa felt like I was on another planet,” he said. They raised $200k to help orphans get uniforms and school equipment. As a thank you, the children put on a performance for Antolin and the other volunteers. “I just remember the joy that was exuding from these children while singing and performing in the midst of having nothing. So much more joy than I’d seen in people from the U.S.” he said. It was an emotional moment for Antolin as he watched them being overjoyed at having Coca-cola for the first time. It was this experience that made two things clear for him. “I realized in an instant how blessed I was, even though I was losing all these material things. I still had more than these people. I had electricity, water, and I had opportunity. I could bounce back. It helped me recover from what was going on. It was an extremely impactful moment in my life, and it forever changed my path in what I wanted to do.” Antolin now feels that paying it forward to those who can’t pay you back and being able to travel and immerse himself in different cultures are two things that must be part of his life.

    Antolin soon started an Instagram page sharing some of his favorite travel spots and places he desired to go. It got to the point he would spend up to six hours a day on Instagram. Speaking of travel, we had to know his top three places to go. We weren’t surprised when he said Maldives, Spain and Bali.

    Now that Antolin has a successful business, he sees the difference between being a workaholic and doing something you are passionate about. “I was overweight, smoking and stressed out a lot. I was not me. The whole focus was on money. It was still work. I considered it work. When I shifted my mind and started my Instagram account, I hadn’t perceived Luxury World Travel as work,” he said. Fortunately, Antolin became a travel influencer before influencers were a thing. With just 200k followers, Antolin began to generate revenue in addition to free trips and hotel stays. “One of the things people miss, unless you are a celebrity, your personal page and business page should be separate.” Also, having strategic collaborations can help you increase your following faster.

    Currently, Antolin is working on his latest business Book Smarter, a travel membership that gives you access to affordable accommodations and way to earn free travel. The business is in beta.

    Travel has been a complete paradigm shift for Antolin, and he’s ready to take on 2018. He’ll be taking on Belize, Dominican Republic, Bora Bora, Laos and Croatia to name a few. “I’ve never been to a place I didn’t enjoy. I think each location has something to offer. That’s why I love traveling. It’s like a new story with each new place,” he shared. To keep track of his adventures, follow him on Instagram @luxuryworldtraveler. Don’t worry if you turn green from all the photos, check out booksmartertravel.com for your next travels.

  • Dave Grutman is King of Nightlife Posted by Admin

    Dave Grutman

    Tis the season to sip champagne and share laughs with lifelong friends. Some may decide to stay home for New Year’s Eve, but the choice to celebrate in a lush venue is still top of the list. Well, if you are in Miami you probably have heard of LIV, Story and Komodo Lounge. Dave Grutman is the entrepreneur responsible for these lively spaces that boasts some of the best DJs and music artists. MillionaireMatch got the scoop on how he went from bartender to nightlife mogul.

    “Relationships mean everything,” Grutman said. Relationships have been a big factor to Grutman’s success. It was his friend Jeff Soffer who wanted him to manage the newly renovated LIV at Fontainebleau Miami Beach. In the early days, Grutman worked as a bartender at Biz Bistro where he would serve up drinks to businessmen after a day’s round of golf. The owner of that restaurant was Soffer’s dad, Donald Soffer. “Whether you are a bartender, busser or doctor you always have to treat everything like it’s a profession,” he said. He later became a manager there. “I always try to treat people like I want to be treated,” Grutman said.

    Grutman learned early on what it would take to be successful beyond building strong relationships. “I run my business with proper ethics,” recalling his time at one of his first nightlife venues. He didn’t always do this. Cameo, his first club, failed because he focused on trying to outdo The Opium Group which eventually bought it from him.

    He now spends his time making sure his brand sticks out from the rest. “I constantly have to see what’s going on in the underground, because that becomes pop culture,” he said. Scouting for new musical talent and building relationships with agents are all part of the game. LIV generates a revenue of $45 million a year, and that’s not by chance. “It’s strategic. It’s luck. It’s being in the right place at the right time and then being able to capitalize on that. There’s plenty of times in your life that will come up that you are in the right place at the right time, but if you don’t make the right decision it goes away,” he said.

    Grutman adds to that strategy, by making sure he hires quality people. “We try to build the right team around us so that we can capitalize on that,” shared Grutman. His team is so good, competitors have tried to lure them away from the company. He practices building his team up, and not always criticizing them.

    With the hospitality business being so competitive, we wanted to know what keeps him on top. “You have to be cutting edge. You can’t wait to see what everyone else is doing. Be innovative, constantly,” he advised. “You want to create a lifestyle so that people think about you when they make those decisions in the hospitality industry,” he said. “I’m in the fun business. At the end of the day, it better be fucking fun,” laughed Grutman. He urges that there will be long hours to go along with being the best, and there isn’t much life work balance.

    With LIV being opened for 10 years, there is no doubt that Grutman continues to keep things fresh and cutting edge. For more information and possibly a new favorite hot spot, check out miami-mg.com.

  • Building a Luxury Brand with John Idol, CEO of Michael Kors Posted by Admin

    John Idol

    “Luxury has many different levels to it,” said John Idol, CEO of Michael Kors. Everyone has access to luxury these days, but it wasn’t always that way. Brands have tapped into an overlooked group which have led companies like Michael Kors to billion dollar brands. MillionaireMatch got the scoop on how Idol grew the company with just one item.

    A key luxury item for both men and women is a quality watch. That’s why Michael Kors decided to introduce their line of watches that looked like quality with an affordable price tag. Idol first offered the MK watch at $125, but the quality wasn’t there. The result? No sales. After he went back to the drawing board, improved the quality, and slapped a new price tag of almost $300 the result was completely different. “Customers understand quality,” Idol said. Once they understood that, MK became one of the biggest watch retailers.

    Idol, who has been the CEO for MK since 2003, offered key tips to building a luxury brand. “You have to be prepared today to embrace technology. Utilize it to help build your brand, and to expand your customer base,” he said. With social media and more people shopping online than going into a brick and mortar, it’s important to capture and keep your audience with the use of technology. “The behavioral shopping patterns of consumers are changing rapidly,” he said. “The consumer today, the wealthier consumer, are adept at shopping online. It’s a convenience of seeing a broader assortment of what you could have in house. You have the convenience of having things delivered in 24 or 48 hours. You need to be able to serve that customer in a completely different way,” he added.

    Even with technology pushing out brand messages so quickly, it’s still important to not get off target. “You have to build a global brand, and you have to have a consistent image,” Idol said regarding MK’s consistent branding. Over the years audiences have watched a brand promote the jetsetter who loves to be stylish. They incorporate an exciting feeling for the newcomer who may be experiencing luxury for the first time. “Many people have never had the kind of money they have come into. The customer wants to show that they have luxury,” he explained. “Many customers in the emerging markets want to show their wealth off. That is one of the drivers of luxury,” Idol said.

    For the entrepreneur creating the next luxury brand, there a few steps you can take. “If you are going to be successful in our business, or any business, you’ve got to work hard. You’ve got to dive for the ball,” Idol said about getting your foot in the door. If you are in college be sure to study abroad. Different climates and cultures speak to the fashion industry differently. Idol also said that brains aren’t the only thing you will need. “The smartest people who work for us are not the people who graduated at the top of their class. They are the ones who are the most interested. They are the ones who are most curious and ask the question ‘why?’. They are always wanting to know why, and aren’t afraid to work hard,” he said.

    To see the latest fashion trend from this luxury brand, visit their site at www.michaelkors.com.

  • Francois-Henry Bennahmias, CEO of Audemars Piguet: “Luxury is true emotions. It’s not something you need.” Posted by Admin

    Francois-Henry Bennahmias

    There are a few key things that everyone should own and feel great wearing. A watch is one of them, but not just any watch. A market that may seem overly-saturated, Audemars Piguet is a brand that only a select few wear. This luxury watch is sure to stand out on anyone’s wrist. CEO François-Henry Bennahmias leads this luxury brand which started in 1875, and remains to be a rival in the industry. MillionaireMatch got the scoop on how Audemars Piguet continues to be the choice for wealthy men.

    “We are a very high end brand. We like to show our craft. Every link is unique. You have to create a new mold every time. It’s very complicated,” Bennahmias said about the process of creating their watches. Because of the complexity, it can’t be copied. Another reason why customers opt for the brand and its price tag which can range from $3500 to over a million dollars. “There will always be an appreciation for things that are done well, and that lasts. You feel it is completely different compared to something that is duplicated by millions,” he said.

    How do they compete with other major brands? “Sometimes we think it’s about re-inventing the wheel. It’s not about re-inventing the wheel. It’s a matter of respecting the basic rules of business which are having an amazing product and amazing partners, and boutiques to sell the product,” he said. He doesn’t feel threatened by the wave of new smartwatches. Bennahmias also believes in forward movement and never standing still when it comes to your business. “Intense work on quality and innovation,” he explained is what keeps them in the game.

    “The purpose is not to be sold to everybody,” Bennahmias said. The company’s model of connecting with customers is a very organic one. Half of their sales happen right over the phone. “When they talk to us the first connection is going to be over the phone. Internet sales, we don’t do it,” he said. Once the Audemars Piguet team has made a connection with a potential customer, they start a relationship with them. “We will continue to use the internet to communicate with clients, but we need to directly connect with the client. At this level of prices and experience, I can’t explain or justify over the internet,” he said. “Luxury is true emotions. It’s not something you need,” as to why a more personal connection is needed to take care of clients one at a time.

    Audemars Piguet has taken a few turns and pivots to become the well known brand it is today. They started out as wholesalers and selling to distributors, they’ve now become their own distributor. With locations all over the world from Spain to Beverly Hills, they are surely a staple for the man and woman with class and style.

    If you haven’t jumped on the bandwagon yet, you can always visit www.audemarspiguet.com. We, like Bennahmias, recommend you give them call for that one on one attention. It’s included in the price!