Kurt's Reviews > Yes, Chef: A Memoir

Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson
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Jul 18, 12

Recommended to Kurt by: Amazon Vine
Read from June 03 to July 18, 2012 — I own a copy

This is, as the title implies, a chef's memoir. Yes, Chef Samuelsson touches on issues of identity and family responsibility and racial heritage, but those musings are all pieces of a story by a supremely talented chef about his rise to the top.

I was vaguely familiar with Marcus Samuelsson before reading this book, mostly from his appearances on Top Chef. His history here, though, is intriguing - an infancy in Ethiopia, life in Sweden with an adopted family, working in kitchens around the world, and success in New York City. Specifically, he describes the interconnectedness of fine dining restaurants in a way I hadn't seen in other restaurant books I had read (mostly by Anthony Bourdain). It seems that, in a good restaurant, the honor a chef pays one of his employees is arranging an internship (called a stage) at some other restaurant with some other talented chef. This system explains a lot of why Top Chef contestants do so much name-dropping in the first episode of every season, and how Top Chef Masters contestants often seem to know each other so well.

Samuelsson's prose, while perfectly readable and pleasant, isn't going to inspire readers to underline and memorize any passages, so this isn't a book to turn to for a reinvention of the art of the memoir. Considering that, though, this is a very professional book by someone whose primary profession involves a pan more often than a pencil, and for foodies or anyone curious about life in the culinary world, I recommend it.

(I received my copy for free from the Amazon Vine program.)
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