Written by Marcus Samuelsson with Veronica Chambers
ISBN 13: 9780385342605
ISBN 10: 0385342608
Publisher: Random House
Hardcover: 336 pages
Chef memoirs. It's difficult to choose which ones to read sometimes. Yes, they can cook, but can they write? I'm on the fence about this one. Marcus is able to communicate his life story and message across, but I felt that something was missing. Was he hardworking and dedicated and passionate? Yes. Did I feel all of this through his writing? Probably not.
Regardless, his story is an interesting one and is easy to read. Having only heard his name here and there, I didn't know much about him. His big break into mainstream media can probably be accredited to Top Chef Masters, where he was crowned the winner of season two. Quite impressive if you saw the other chefs he was going up against. Sadly, we were late into watching the addicting Top Chef and missed his season, (we only started following during season three). However, this part is briefly touched upon in his book. As a new fan of the television series, I was hoping for more insider's experience and knowledge!
Then, I was impressed to learn that he actually made his name from working at the Scandinavian restaurant, Aquavit, in Manhattan. He became the youngest chef (23) to receive a three-star rating from The New York Times. He's awarded as the Rising Star Chef in New York City by the James Beard Foundation. And in 2009 he cooked for President Obama’s first state dinner (the menu is displayed at Red Rooster). He was so successful at Aquavit that he had to pay a fortune to buy back the rights to “Marcus Samuelsson” (his own name!) after his relationship with the former business partner and president turned sour.
Marcus didn't have an easy start to life. He was only three years old when his mother, sister, and him contracted tuberculosis in Addis Adaba, Ethiopia. Sadly, his birth mother did not survive, but Marcus and his sister did and were adopted by a family in Göteborg, Sweden. Ann Marie and Lennart Samuelsson, were such caring and generous parents. There, we are first see his spark for cooking in the kitchen with his new grandmother, Helga. It wasn't an obvious path for he originally wanted to be a professional soccer player, but was told he was a little too small to make the teams. Along the way, he faced racism and prejudice, but his talent and hard work did not go unnoticed. He was given chances and his dedication paid off as he quickly rose up the kitchen ranks.
310 Malcolm X Boulevard
Harlem, NY 10027
After reading Yes, Chef, I was still curious enough to try his first successful restaurant in New York. From his success, I thought it would be best to make reservations for lunch. It didn't appear completely packed, but the place had quite the energy and tables could be quickly snapped up, so I would recommend that you call ahead.
Ginny’s Supper Club.
Didn't spot Marcus in the kitchen that day, he might have been out doing publicity, we saw so many advertisements for his products around the city.
It turned out to be our least favourite dish, the chicken was on the drier side and Howard was not a fan of the vegetables underneath.
Overall, the lunch experience was pleasant, but would we return? Unlikely. Going in with high expectations, I'm sad to say that we just weren't wowed by the food.
What do you think? Have you read Yes, Chef? Have you eaten at Red Rooster? We'd love to hear your thoughts!