Yes, Chef

  • by Marcus Samuelsson
  • Narrated by Marcus Samuelsson
  • 11 hrs and 51 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

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.


What the Critics Say

"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)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

A fun and inspiring civics lesson

I initially chose this book expecting to read a few good stories about food and anecdotes about people in the industry. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the chef has pulled off the rare feat of infusing this account of his quest for flavors with compelling (but not preachy) lessons about life.

Chef Samuelsson's accent (mostly stress patterns and unorthodox pronunciation of certain words and groupings) takes a little getting used to, but his lovely voice, command of the various foreign languages mentioned in the book, and emotional connection to the story make the adjustment easier, and more importantly, are unlikely to be found in narrators for hire that quite a few long-time Audible listeners complain about.

This is *not* one of those memoirs that practically anyone with some measure of media exposure seems to be hacking out these days and whose content is probably not even worth the paper and ink that went into the production of the physical volume. The writing and the way Chef Samuelsson frame the narrative were excellent and reflected the same incredible focus that has earned him well-deserved accolades and success. I will let my fellow listeners get acquainted with the wonderful details of the story, especially the chef's family, but I must express my admiration for their uncommon decency and work ethic.

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- loix

Much more than a foodie memoir

While the descriptions of food and all of its pleasures in this memoir are just lovely, I am more impressed by Marcus Samuelsson's storytelling abilities and his brutal honesty. Here is a hard-working chef who traveled all over the world and faced some pretty significant challenges to master his craft, and, in doing so, admittedly neglected some responsibilities in other areas of his life. Samuelsson's background and story are unique, and his passion and determination refreshing. But by far, the best part of this fascinating memoir is the fact that Samuelsson himself narrates it. His voice does take some getting used to - he sometimes emphasizes syllables that a native English speaker wouldn't, and pauses in unexpected places of his narration - but it makes the book truly come alive and it's wonderful to hear him speak in the many different languages he's learned from all the kitchens he's been in.
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- Diana - Audible

Book Details

  • Release Date: 06-26-2012
  • Publisher: Random House Audio