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Yes, Chef: A Memoir Hardcover – June 26, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; First Edition edition (June 26, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385342608
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385342605
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (377 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #91,792 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Advance praise for Yes, Chef
 
“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, bestselling 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, bestselling author of Blood, Bones, & Butter
 
“The pleasures of this memoir are numerous. Marcus Samuelsson’s life, like his cooking, reflects splendidly multicultural influences and educations, and he writes about it all with an abundance of flavor and verve. A delicious read.”—Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

About the Author

A James Beard Award–winning chef and author of several cookbooks, Marcus Samuelsson has appeared on Today, Charlie Rose, Iron Chef, and Top Chef Masters, where he took first place. In 1995, for his work at Aquavit, Samuelsson became the youngest chef ever to receive a three-star review from The New York Times. His newest restaurant, Red Rooster, recently opened in Harlem, where he lives with his wife.


More About the Author

A James Beard Award-winning chef and author of several cookbooks, Marcus Samuelsson has appeared on Today, Charlie Rose, Iron Chef, and Top Chef Masters, where he took first place. In 1995, for his work at Aquavit, Samuelsson became the youngest chef ever to receive a three-star review from The New York Times. His newest restaurant, Red Rooster, recently opened in Harlem, where he lives with his wife.

Customer Reviews

The book is very well written and very informative.
lnmck1129
Even though I don't think I'll ever get close to him or in the circles he has worked his way into, after reading the book I felt like we could be friends.
FineAlee
Thank you, Marcus Samuelsson, for sharing your interesting life's story.
Marion Gocialk

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

95 of 106 people found the following review helpful By Aceto TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 5, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Two reviews of a berbere spice mixture from an otherwise first rate North African spice purveyor caught my eye because they were harshly critical of its make up. There was only one chef who immediately came to mind, the redoubtable Marcus Samuelsson. His recent volume, "The Soul of a New Cuisine" (apologies to Tracy Kidder) had the truth of the matter. Why go to a Swede for Ethiopian authenticity? That answer lies in this volume of his memoirs. The great former Chef de Cuisine for New York's Aquavit is Ethiopian. His adopting parents are Swedes.

Chef Samuelsson prepares quite a story. His voice is as clear as a glass of aquavit and his adventures as pungent as that berbere paste. He is an honest raconteur with little use for devices or manipulation. Rarely do you see full acknowledgement given to the ghost writer, including her own title. Veronica Chambers has done a nice job of getting the book out and not getting in the way.

He peers into the past without benefit of photographs or letters, but with a healthy mistrust of his own memory and even of the politeness of his people. He tells us the tale of an Ethiopian village patriarch, or "Abba", yes, just like in Sweden.

He has an easier time going back a few generations in Sweden. It was his grandmother that seeded his food memories. "Mormor" was a maid and domestic cook. She salted her chicken right after plucking, then cooling and drying in the cellar. So Chef Samuelsson speaks of putting chickens by the air conditioner to help dry the skin. Most do not know that you cannot properly roast a soggy bird. She nests it on a bed of carrot, rubs with spice and sews it up with an apple, an onion. Eat that chicken, as Mingus would sing.
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50 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Terri J. Rice TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 3, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
"In any professional kitchen, the lower-ranked staff responds to any request from above with military-like respect. "Yes, chef," is what I was taught to say whether he or she asks for a side of beef or your head on a platter. Yes, chef. Yes, chef. Yes, chef."

Marcus Samuelsson is orphaned at three years old. Anne Marie and Lennart live in Sweden unable to have children. Lennart has always wanted a son. When Marcus might soon be up for adoption, they are asked if they would like this little boy's five year old sister as well. Why put these two children through more truama; of course they will adopt her too.

Marcus learns early in his grandmother's,mormor's, kitchen, the art of cooking. The layering of food and technique belongs to mormor's tutelage. The simple logic of food comes from mormor: fresh bread the first day becomes toast on the next, followed by croutons on the next day and the leftover crumbs become the coating for the fish.

Marcus at twelve begins a ritual of accompanying his father to the fishing village of Smögen to repaint the boats for the next season. It is then that Lennart entrusts Marcus with the meal for their last night before returning home. It was then that Marcus understood the beauty of food within context; a simple fisherman's meal, potatoes and fish, after a hard day of work was perfection. The meal reflected the surroundings.

This is Marcus Samuelsson's story of defeat at being cut from the soccer team, the realization in his little town of Göteborg that the issue of race is something that he will encounter all his life, determining that he would not let himself be defeated he would go to culinary school, to eventually fulfilling his dream- his own restaurant in Harlem, Red Rooster.
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31 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Janet Perry VINE VOICE on May 8, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
While I haven't eaten any of Samuelsson's food, I have read his cookbooks, watched him on TV, and followed his career. His life story is intriguing and unexpected and I'm so glad he write this engaging, well-written, and frank memoir.

You won't find celebrity gossip, high crimes, or scandal here and that's part of what makes it good. What you will find is a man at the prime of his life reflecting on it and on what brought him to this point.

Samuelsson's life story is worth hearing. Born in Ethiopia, he was orphaned, along with his older sister, as a toddler after his mother died of TB. They both were adopted by a Swedish family and he learned to cook at his grandmother's side. After doing a culinary program in high school and working at a local restaurant, he went to Switzerland and began the long, hard process of becoming a chef.

Fast forward a few years and he went to New York to work at Aquavit, a Swedish restaurant. There he became executive chef, earned three stars from the New York Times and won a James Beard Award. Most recently he opened Red Rooster in Harlem.

Those are the bare bones of his story, which he amplifies throughout the book. It's so delightful and so well-written I found myself saying "just one more chapter . . ."

Samuelsson is quick to acknowledge the debt he owes to his family, his friends, and the chefs he's worked for. That's one of the best things about the book. It' such a wonderful portrait of a man who has worked hard, but hasn't forgotten what brought him to this point, who he is, or what made him into the man he became.

And how many memoirs can show us that?
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