cover image Yes, Chef: A Memoir

Yes, Chef: A Memoir

Marcus Samuelsson. Random, $26 (322p) ISBN 978-0-385-34260-5

Samuelsson, the chef and owner of Harlem’s famed Red Rooster restaurant, masterfully serves us a delicious banquet full of the ingredients that compose his own enchanting yet poignant story. When he was two, Samuelsson, his older sister, and his mother contracted tuberculosis in rural Ethiopia; after several days journey to the capital Addis Ababa, the three were admitted to a hospital. Samuelsson and his sister survived their mother, and they were soon adopted by a couple in Sweden. With the consummate skill of a master chef, Samuelsson cooks up a steaming stew of his life from his earliest cooking lessons at the hands of his grandmother to his various apprenticeships in Switzerland, France, and New York. From his grandmother’s food he learns rustic cooking and the ways that she knew intuitively how to create various textures in foods. When he’s 12 and on a fishing trip with his father, Samuelsson cooks his first meal and learns an important lesson about the beauty of food in context and how important it is to let the dishes be reflective of your surroundings. Samuelsson carries readers through his many failures and successes as a cook in restaurants like New York’s Aquavit and France’s Georges Blanc and in his relationships. Much like life, he delightfully points out, a great restaurant is more than just a series of services; it is a collection of meals and memories. (June)