Jenny (Reading Envy)'s Reviews > Yes, Chef

Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson
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Jul 13, 12

bookshelves: audiobook, foodie, read2012, around-the-world, location-sweden
Read from June 20 to July 11, 2012

I only really knew Marcus Samuelsson from shows like Top Chef Masters, and vague references to a chef who was combining Swedish and African flavors in his cooking back when I was thinking about working towards being a chef myself. I didn't know much about him, but was interested in hearing his story.

I have to admit to being impressed. Marcus has always been incredibly driven. As a child, it was to be a soccer player, and when it turned out that he wasn't going to be big enough to cut it, he turned all that energy into cooking. He somehow knew when he needed to push more, to learn more, even from a young age, and his skill and persistence placed him in key restaurants from Sweden to Switzerland to Austria to the United States to France to cruise ships and back to New York, where he has recently opened his newest restaurant, Red Rooster.

Listening to the audiobook enhanced the story quite a bit for me. Sometimes he misreads the words, and it doesn't always flow. Still, what ends up happening is that it feels like he has pulled a chair up to your table to tell about his experiences. By the end, I was completely rooting for his success, as well as for anyone he'd be able to have an impact on. I found a warmth to him, a compassion even, that I wasn't expecting. His love of flavors and how they connect to a community's history inform his cooking, and I think his perspective is important to our culinary world.

I feel like I'm gushing. Chefs do tend to make me that way, but I think unless you've worked in a restaurant, and served 200 tables with a third degree burn, you can't really get it - how much you pour into it; how much it energizes you. For an alternate perspective, Eddie Huang from the Observer offers a much more critical eye. He focuses on the issue of race, but to be fare, Marcus is not born American, and has learned about race relations in the states only through his own experience. I wish Huang had instead looked at what he had to offer. I think he missed Chef Samuelsson's intentions with the Harlem restaurant. He never intended to recreate what Harlem already had, but to tie it into the wider culinary experience, and his own.
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Reading Progress

06/23/2012 page 40
12.0% "I'm listening to the audio and having the Chef himself read it is great... it just sounds like someone telling you their life story."
07/05/2012 page 165
49.0% "I saw a blog entry that mentioned this controversial negative article about the book, so I'm saving it to read when I'm done. http://observer.com/2012/06/marcus-sa..."
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Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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message 1: by John (new)

John I heard on interview with the author last month on NPR, but didn't remember the name of the book until I saw that you are reading it. How is it?


Jenny (Reading Envy) John wrote: "I heard on interview with the author last month on NPR, but didn't remember the name of the book until I saw that you are reading it. How is it?"
I'm about halfway since I'm listening, and I have enjoyed hearing his journey so far. He just turned 21....


message 3: by John (new)

John Oh, and he's reading it, too? Nice. :-)


message 4: by Jenny (Reading Envy) (last edited Jul 03, 2012 06:49PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jenny (Reading Envy) John wrote: "Oh, and he's reading it, too? Nice. :-)"

Yes, although you have to look past some weird grammar issues and mispronunciations. English is far from his native language, but one of at least six that he speaks fluently. I like the rhythm of it. You can picture him as the kid who lives for soccer far more in his own voice.


message 5: by John (new)

John I remember from the NPR interview that I also enjoyed the rhythm of his speech. I definitely found his story to be an interesting one.


Janice I have the ebook version and will be reading it soon.


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