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Yes, Chef

A memoir by Chef Marcus Samuelsson

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An interesting look at the world of professional chefs...and at one chef in particular.

  • Jun 15, 2012
I think it is a common issue in our culture to feel like we know someone from watching them on television. I have seen Chef Marcus Samuelsson many times on TV, including Top Chef Masters, Top Chef and Chopped. I knew that he was Ethiopian born and Swedish raised, and that he is an incredible chef who gained notoriety and status as a chef and restauranteur very early in life, but clearly I only know a tiny speck of who Marcus is from watching him on TV.

This book, co-written with Veronica Chambers, fills in the blanks. Marcus speaks at length about his childhood--how he came to be an orphan and to be adopted by a Swedish couple--and the genesis for his love of food and cooking (his Swedish grandma, Helga). He also recounts his beginnings in the restaurant industry and how being a dark-skinned black person in largely-white Sweden was difficult.

You will learn about each step in Chef Samuelsson's meteoric rise as a chef, from Sweden, to Switzerland and France, and finally to America, where he finally felt that he fit in with--instead of feeling apart from--the people around him. I knew that he had gotten his US break at Aquavit, a Swedish restaurant in New York, but had no idea of the incredible story behind his exit from that restaurant. Finally, you will "ride along" on his quest to open his latest restaurant, Red Rooster in Harlem in late 2010, despite the odds.

Marcus pulls no punches when he speaks of the people he has worked with and dealt with in the restaurant industry (he tells of a brief encounter with British chef and American TV staple Gordon Ramsay--quite an eye-opening look into that chef's arrogance). Then again, arrogance & chefs seem to go together like apple pie & grandmas, so I suppose it is not THAT shocking.

There may be times in this book--especially before he was famous--that you won't like Marcus for some selfish, irresponsible behavior, but you have to admire the man for his incredible chops as a chef and what he has accomplished so young. In an industry where most of the greats are in their 60s or older, Marcus achieved greatness in his 20s (he became executive chef of Aquavit at 24 and was the youngest chef to ever receive a 3-star review from the New York Times) and 30s (he was invited to create and cook President Obama's first state dinner at 39).

If you are a foodie or chef, you will get a lot out of this book, but I think it would be an enjoyable and enlightening read for anyone.

An interesting look at the world of professional chefs...and at one chef in particular. An interesting look at the world of professional chefs...and at one chef in particular.

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June 17, 2012
I can cook some Italian meals and I'm a pro with the Vitamix 5200 juicer/processor.
June 17, 2012
I make some Mexican meals and I'm a pro with the Braun stick blender/processor.
June 18, 2012
I like Mexican food but the thing to do is to have it with a bland sauce instead of too much hot spice. Blended cucumber makes a good bland sauce for Mexican and even Indian dishes.
June 20, 2012
Bland sauce may be your preference, but it is not mine. If I'm going to make Mexican food, I'm not going to put a bland sauce on it. My whole joy in eating Mexican food is the heat...not a ridiculous amount, but enough to taste/feel it.
June 20, 2012
That's true. I prefer the trade-off which involves less discomfort. I can enjoy my food both before and afterward with the bland sauce.
About the reviewer
Sheri ()
Ranked #69
I have been a customer reviewer on Amazon.com for well over a decade and an Amazon Vine reviewer since the program began. I enjoy writing product reviews that will help customers make a buying decision. … more
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Marcus Samuelsson (born Kassahun Tsegie; January 25, 1970)[3] is an Ethiopian-born, Swedish-raised chef and owner of Red Rooster Harlem in New York City and three other restaurants.


Early life

After their birth mother died in a tuberculosis epidemic when he was three years old, Kassahun Tsegie and his elder sister, Fantaye,[3] were adopted by Ann Marie and Lennart Samuelsson, a homemaker and a geologist, who lived in Gothenburg, Sweden. The siblings' names were changed to Marcus and Linda Samuelsson. They also have an adopted sister, Anna Samuelsson. Samuelsson's biological father, Tsegie, is a priest and father of eight of the chef's half-siblings; he still lives in the Ethiopian village where Samuelsson was born.[3]

Education and career

After becoming interested in cooking because of his maternal grandmother in Sweden, Samuelsson studied at the Culinary Institute in Gothenburg, where he grew up, apprenticed in Switzerland and Austria, and came to the United States in 1991 as an apprentice at Restaurant Aquavit. At 24, Marcus became executive chef of Aquavit, and soon after that became the youngest ever to receive a three-star restaurant review from The New York Times.[3] In 2003 he was named "Best Chef: New York City" by the James Beard Foundation. The same year he started a second New York restaurant, Riingo, serving Japanese-influenced American ...

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Restaurants, Chef, Top Chef, Swedish, Ethiopian, Chopped, Restauranteur, James Beard Award Winner, Top Chef Masters, Marcus Samuelsson


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