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)
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.
An accomplished chef's memoir, much less food-focused than others in the genre, and much more human. Samuelson is very honest about hard periods and dumb choices and it's very touching to watch his late arrival at accepting his fatherhood. Obviously a very talented chef & very driven man, I'm most struck by his absolute acceptance of grunt work and hierarchy- without those being continually woven into the story you could think he's a jerk, instead you realize he's extremely hard working and not afraid that doing grunt work harms him in any way. That alone is a powerful message. The book is well told and enjoyable, if a little long.
Definite read for any person determined to live their life's passion. Must read for any inspiring chefs and lovers of good cooking alike as well as anyone needing inspiration to keep pushing ahead with their own business ventures.
I have given the book 4 stars because it's a well written book, good narrator (author) and a lot of other people seemed to like it. I did not want to discourage anyone from checking it out but for me I got nothing out of book. Yes it's a rags to riches story and the author became a great chef. I am just not interested in this subject and the rags to riches part seems common to me. I was not inspired and took nothing away for myself in terms of motivation. I did finish the whole book. I can see where some other people would like it. Stay with what you love and what you were born to do and you will be a success. Also going off to see the world and leave your daughter and her mother without a father while you pursue your own dream maybe the type of sacrifice one simply has to make to succeed.
I really enjoyed it but there are other books I enjoyed more. So I would say maybe a 7 out of 10
His charm and his accent
Yes it was
Thoroughly enjoyable and very interesting.
Well done. Can't wait to visit the Red Rooster!
(My review is complete. I'm irritated audible insists it has to be a certain length!!!)
tasty satisfying and full of flavor
When he had to buy back his name
The passion and love, speaking of his families
highly recommended. I'd like to eat at the Red Rooster
I heard about Marcus Samuelsson very early in his career at Aqua Vit. To hear him tell his own story, with that wonderful voice of his, is terrificly entertaining. I often listen to audio books on long drives, and this book is a great traveling 'companion', for sure.
His detailed memories of cooking with his Grandmother.
No. I've been listening in it, in "spurts", as I drive. I like the book so much, I don't want it to end!
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