Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson

By John McFarland | Posted on February 25th, 2013

Although I have never had the pleasure of eating at one of  Marcus Samuelsson’s restaurants I knew immediately when I heard he was publishing his memoir that it would be a must read. Best known as a winner of hit reality show Top Chef Masters and also one of Barack Obama’s favourite chefs, Samuelsson is also the youngest chef (age 24) to ever receive 3 stars by the New York Times. What is even more interesting is that he gambled all this good will and success on The Red Rooster – a restaurant honouring the traditional foods of African American and Caribbean culture. And then having the courage to open it uptown in the heart of Harlem in New York City. Further to his credit, he has achieved all this gracefully while being a rare black chef in a culinary world  full of endless white faces. In Yes, Chef, he chronicles the remarkable journey he took for him to reach the success he now reaps. Born in Ethiopia to extreme poverty, orphaned at age three, then adopted by a loving family in remote Sweden, we cheer on this very sincere and talented young man as he battles racism on top of the strict temperament all budding chefs find while traversing through the worlds kitchens. In the end when he finally “arrives” in New York you can’t help but  share his triumph as he quickly rises to become one the city’s best chefs. Of course there are many professional setbacks along the way and one also finds great dramatic tension in his reunion with his family in his birth country. An incredibly inspirational book, Samuellson, has definitely lived a remarkable life and earned the title, Yes, Chef.



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