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)
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.
Marcus himself, of course.
Coming back to Ethiopia; meeting his "dead" father and his reception in his home village.
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.
No, definitely not. Some of the best books I've read have been memoirs, and this book won't discourage me.
As stated above, his choppy english was a real distraction from the content.
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.
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.
Maybe Samuelsson didn't realize how offensive the F-word is because he is a non-native English speaker. His editors should have given him more guidance.
I like unabridged novels. When I first joined Audible, many were abridged. That has changed. Non-fiction, politics, bios are favorites
I enjoy watching the celebrity chefs on TV and thought that I would like to hear the story of this Ethiopian, Swedish chef's story. The story is interesting if you are interested in the stories of people like Anthony Bourdain. MS can't read his own work outloud. He is awful. English is his third language which makes his pronunciation somewhat difficult but still... There is a lot of ego in this book, I expected that. I just think it would have been better served by a better reader.
The hard path of a potential chef.
No. The best parts are said.
Keep cooking Mr. Samuelsson.
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