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Yes, Chef: A Memoir | [Marcus Samuelsson]

Yes, Chef: A Memoir

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. Yes, Chef chronicles Marcus Samuelsson’s remarkable journey from Helga’s humble kitchen to the opening of the beloved Red Rooster in Harlem.
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Publisher's Summary

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

What the Critics Say

"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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (440 )
5 star
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4.0 (390 )
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Performance
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  •  
    lorena ODESSA, FL, United States 09-10-12
    lorena ODESSA, FL, United States 09-10-12 Member Since 2012
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    6
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    "Great inspiration"
    If you could sum up Yes, Chef in three words, what would they be?

    HIs story is one to take inspiration from. It just goes to show that when you dont make excuses or let "stuff" get in your way, good things can happen with determination. What an inspiration Marcus is to all of us. We own several restaurants, and I have bought several copies of his book for our staff to pass around in our kitchen(s). Loved his story and his sense of place. Perhaps a bit drawn out, if you aren't a foodie, but all in all a sweet read.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    M. Reed NJ, USA 09-04-12
    M. Reed NJ, USA 09-04-12 Member Since 2007

    Enjoy history, self help, novels, not a sequel follower.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "So much life in such a short time"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Yes, Chef to be better than the print version?

    Yes because I loved Marcus Samuelsson telling his story.


    What about Marcus Samuelsson???s performance did you like?

    The sincerity in in voice, his openess and disclosure of his struggles and achievements, felt a connection with his family values.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    It made me think and understand the world of chef's better.


    Any additional comments?

    Chef's are truly impressive people.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laure Grand Forks, British Columbia, Canada 09-04-12
    Laure Grand Forks, British Columbia, Canada 09-04-12 Member Since 2009
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    3
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    "Chef Samuelsson can write as well as cook!"
    What did you love best about Yes, Chef?

    I loved that Marcus Samuelsson was willing to share the not so flattering aspects of his journey; the difficult times as well as the triumphs of his career. I knew him best from Top Chef Masters, and to be honest found him to be a bit obnoxious on the show. Reading what was happening behind the scenes while Top Chef Masters was taping opened my eyes and I rescinded my initial harsh judgement of him. I came to admire chef Marcus, and am now rooting for his continued success in an incredibly competitive and tough business. He's an original - I mean an Ethiopian kid raised in Sweden for starters. He's a fighter, driven to succeed, loves good food, and flavor most of all. I thoroughly enjoyed his story and enjoyed listening to his unique accent as he read his own story. Bravo chef Marcus. My next trip is to New York to check out Red Rooster.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Yes, Chef?

    His trip to Ethiopia to meet with his father. I could relate, as I met my birth father as an adult as well. So many emotions.


    What about Marcus Samuelsson’s performance did you like?

    His unique accent.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Reading about the effects of 911 on New York; life forever changed on an unforgettably beautiful September morning.


    Any additional comments?

    Marcus Samuelsson is a talented guy, multilingual, a gifted chef, a snappy dresser (love his personal style). Really enjoyed this read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amy United States 09-04-12
    Amy United States 09-04-12 Member Since 2010
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    21
    4
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    "It's so much more than about cooking."
    Would you consider the audio edition of Yes, Chef to be better than the print version?

    YES!


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Marcus of course


    What does Marcus Samuelsson bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    His life his perspective his voice.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Yes, Marcus's emotion and intensity moved me to tears.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sean Ellis Odenton, MD USA 08-20-12
    Sean Ellis Odenton, MD USA 08-20-12 Member Since 2011
    ratings
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    4
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    "A real memoir of a real chef"
    Where does Yes, Chef rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This is one of the better audiobooks i've had the pleasure of listening to. The combination of a great story and personal narrative should appeal to any fan of memoirs or foodies.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Wanda M. Mercer Boca Raton, Florida, USA 08-20-12
    Wanda M. Mercer Boca Raton, Florida, USA 08-20-12

    SAS Dog

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    "Biography of a very lucky and talented chef"
    Where does Yes, Chef rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Top 25


    What did you like best about this story?

    The author's healthy additude toward good and bad fortune and those who helped him along the way


    What does Marcus Samuelsson bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    enphasis on those things about his biography that are most important to him


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    An unusual path to world-class success...


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brandy 08-19-12
    Brandy 08-19-12 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Interesting topic, horrible performance"

    Yes Chef is the memior of a black, Ethopian/Swedish/American chef. That, in and of itself, is pretty remarkable, and lends a large element of interest to his memior. In addition, for those of us who are totally unfamiliar with what it takes to be a professional chef, the material was quite eye opening and interesting. I also felt that the writing was not bad for a non-native English speaker and an untrained author. My chief complaint, and it was a big one, was the terrible performance of the narrator - Sorry Marcus, you should stick to cooking. The narrator, who is the author/chef, read quite poorly. He chopped his sentences with pauses that were improperly placed, sometimes almost changing the meaning of the sentence. Luckily, he read slowly so I always had time to adjust my understanding to his strange, ungainly reading cadence. In the case of this book, I wished I had chosen to read it instead of buying an audio version.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ronna United States 08-13-12
    Ronna United States 08-13-12 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great story by a great chef"

    I've been a long time fan of the cooking channels, so when I saw this book by a chef I've admired because of his story and cooking skills, I was thrilled to read this book.  'YES CHEF' does more than just NOT disappoint, it was a mind opening and heart rendering story of skill, talent, and determination.

    Marcus Samuelsson was born in Ethiopia where he contracted TB with his Mom and sister.  His mom walked many miles to get her children medical treatment, only to die of TB herself.  At two years of age, Marcus survived TB and was taken in by a nurse.  Desperately wanting a son, a Swedish family adopted Marcus and his sister.  In Sweden, Marcus began his life of diversity as a black child in a white family, but more importantly, he began his love of food and cooking while helping his grandmother in the kitchen.

    Thus begins this very informative and emotional look into the life of a great chef, and a groundbreaking winning chef no less!  Marcus tells how he made his way around the world, learning about new foods.  How he tasted and tweaked recipes, writing down all his ideas and experiences along his travels. As a black chef, he had to prove his value to any restaurant. Along the way, he made good friends and a couple of difficult relationships.

    This story of a poor sick orphan boy who worked, tasted and cooked his way into top cooking shows like Top Chef and Chopped, cooked in the White House for the President of the USA, and opened one of the first fine dining restaurants in revitalized Harlem, is a must read for any foodie!  'YES CHEF' would be interesting just because of it's factual information, but it actually reads like a fast passed novel! A spectacular read!!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    VicinSF SAN FRANCISCO, CA, United States 08-06-12
    VicinSF SAN FRANCISCO, CA, United States 08-06-12 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
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    "A lot more than Food tips"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes: Marcus's life is quite a story - from Ethiopia to Sweden, then Switzerland, England, France, USA - and now an international career. His sense of duty and dedication could be cloying, but is set out so unsentimentally that it just seems part of a strong character. You do have to be interested in food because of the detailed descriptions of his lifetime obsession, but they repay attention.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Marcus himself, of course.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Discovering Harlem.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Coming back to Ethiopia; meeting his "dead" father and his reception in his home village.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Victoria Chilliwack, BC, Canada 08-11-13
    Victoria Chilliwack, BC, Canada 08-11-13 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "underwhelming"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    The narrator! Honestly, I have listened to a million audiobooks and I have to say that only 1 in 10 author narrated books has been a good idea. In this case, his choppy english was very very distracting as his sentence pauses were really unnatural and made this book hard to listen to. It wasn't the worst I've heard in terms of self-narrated books, but definitely would have been better with a professional narrator.


    Has Yes, Chef turned you off from other books in this genre?

    No, definitely not. Some of the best books I've read have been memoirs, and this book won't discourage me.


    What didn’t you like about Marcus Samuelsson’s performance?

    As stated above, his choppy english was a real distraction from the content.


    What else would you have wanted to know about Marcus Samuelsson’s life?

    I would have preferred some real honesty. I've read enough memoirs to know when I'm getting the real deal, and this book felt disingenous. Sure he revealed some less flattering aspects of his past, but overall it was pretty self-congratulatory: "look how hard it has been for me as a black chef in a white dominated industry! but I sure showed them! look at my supermodel wife and all my riches! ..and, oh yeah, the daughter I didn't want to acknowledge for years and years and years..but she's ok with it now." ugh.


    Any additional comments?

    I read many glowing reviews that stated that this book should be on the must-read lists for high-school students. I couldn't disagree more. I would rather recommend "The Heart and The Fist" for students. It's message is much deeper. Rather than "work hard and you can be rich and famous and marry a supermodel too", it teaches "work hard, then work harder, then work even harder and you will discover what is truly meaningful in life." And it's not money and fame.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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