Audie Award Nominee, Narration by the Author or Authors, 2013
It begins with a simple ritual: Every Saturday afternoon, a boy who loves to cook walks to his grandmother’s house and helps her prepare a roast chicken for dinner. The grandmother is Swedish, a retired domestic. The boy is Ethiopian and adopted, and he will grow up to become the world-renowned chef Marcus Samuelsson. This book is his love letter to food and family in all its manifestations.
Marcus Samuelsson was only three years old when he, his mother, and his sister - all battling tuberculosis - walked 75 miles to a hospital in the Ethiopian capital city of Addis Adaba. Tragically, his mother succumbed to the disease shortly after she arrived, but Marcus and his sister recovered, and one year later they were welcomed into a loving middle-class white family in Göteborg, Sweden. It was there that Marcus’s new grandmother, Helga, sparked in him a lifelong passion for food and cooking with her pan-fried herring, her freshly baked bread, and her signature roast chicken. From a very early age, there was little question what Marcus was going to be when he grew up.
Yes, Chef chronicles Marcus Samuelsson’s remarkable journey from Helga’s humble kitchen to some of the most demanding and cutthroat restaurants in Switzerland and France, from his grueling stints on cruise ships to his arrival in New York City, where his outsize talent and ambition finally come together at Aquavit, earning him a coveted New York Times three-star rating at the age of 24. But Samuelsson’s career of “chasing flavors”, as he calls it, had only just begun - in the intervening years, there have been White House state dinners, career crises, reality show triumphs, and, most importantly, the opening of the beloved Red Rooster in Harlem.
At Red Rooster, Samuelsson has fufilled his dream of creating a truly diverse, multiracial dining room - a place where presidents and prime ministers rub elbows with jazz musicians, aspiring artists, bus drivers, and nurses. It is a place where an orphan from Ethiopia, raised in Sweden, living in America, can feel at home.
With disarming honesty and intimacy, Samuelsson also opens up about his failures - the price of ambition, in human terms - and recounts his emotional journey, as a grown man, to meet the father he never knew. Yes, Chef is a tale of personal discovery, unshakable determination, and the passionate, playful pursuit of flavors - one man’s struggle to find a place for himself in the kitchen, and in the world.
©2012 Marcus Samuelsson (P)2012 Random House Audio
"The Red Rooster's arrival in Harlem brought with it a chef who has reinvigorated and reimagined what it means to be American. In his famed dishes, and now in this memoir, Marcus Samuelsson tells a story that reaches past racial and national divides to the foundations of family, hope, and downright good food." (President Bill Clinton)
"I've read a lot of chefs' books, but never anything like this one. Marcus Samuelsson has had such an interesting life, and he talks about it with touching modesty and remarkable candor. I couldn't put this book down." (Ruth Reichl, best-selling author of Tender at the Bone)
"Marcus Samuelsson has an incomparable story, a quiet bravery, and a lyrical and discreetly glittering style - in the kitchen and on the page. I liked this book so very, very much." (Gabrielle Hamilton, best-selling author of Blood, Bones, & Butter)
I can't really say what I enjoyed more, Marcus' personal story, the food story or his philosophy regarding both! I don't consider myself a foodie, and so was quite surprised at how appealing I found this book. The author's voice, though sometimes a tad difficult to understand, (not often or much) added a delightful flavor.
Eye opening story of the ranks of professional kitchen work and a man with a passionate dream that in the end humility and hard work won for him. A unique journey that after listening you feel part of on a deeper level. Food gives us roots and memories. I love too that this book was narrated by the author. It adds so much dimension for the listener. Highly recommend this listen, an absorbing life story. I hope to visit his restaurant one day!
Good book. Very interesting life. I was so intrigued. Sometimes it was like listing to someone recant my life growing up as a extra cute, blue eyed white American kid in west Africa, Venezuela and Philippines. Then rising in my fields of expertise.
I little too much black power sentiment at the end. But we all need to make a living, the race card works for some folks.
Maybe. It took me more than half the book to get used to his style of reading. I understand that his accent may be the reason for the strange pauses during the reading of sentences, but it made it really hard for me to follow the audio for a very long time. I kept having to replay the material until I figured it out. I might be more likely to read his book myself, rather than buy the audiobook.
I cannot think of any.
I do not think so.
Maybe some downloadable photos to round out the audiobook and help listeners complete the connection they were building with the author during the course of the audiobook. I searched the Internet to look at photos of his wife and daughter, for example, and to see some of the foods he mentioned.
I am glad to have listened to this book as my exposure to different cultures (foods, families, countries, jobs in the food world...) has grown significantly. So has my respect for the Chef, who actually had to buy back his own name!
Sometimes the author should just leave the reading to others. Samuelsson may be able to translate into English, but he really doesn't know the language. His phrasing was so stilted and awkward it made it impossible for me to continue after the first hour or so. This seems to be a good story of triumph over the odds, but I will never know.
I became interested in Marcus Samuelsson after seeing him as a judge on the Food Network show Chopped. I have since seen him in several other venues, including his recent victory as a mentor on The Taste. I purchased this book because as a dedicated home cook always learning about new cuisines I wanted to know more about him and his background.
His story is compelling, from the death of his mother taking him and his sister to a hospital, to his adoption by a Swedish couple, to his entry into the culinary world and his triumphs and failures, one gets a tremendous respect for this man. I recently purchased his cookbook "Soul of a new Cuisine" in hard-copy and am plowing my way through it for new ideas.
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