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Yes, Chef

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  16,602 ratings  ·  2,317 reviews
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 ...more
Hardcover, 319 pages
Published June 26th 2012 by Random House
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Kitchen Confidential by Anthony BourdainYes, Chef by Marcus SamuelssonBlood, Bones, and Butter by Gabrielle HamiltonHeat by Bill BufordMy Life in France by Julia Child
Yummy Memoirs!
337 books — 127 voters
The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael PollanKitchen Confidential by Anthony BourdainAnimal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara KingsolverFast Food Nation by Eric SchlosserIn Defense of Food by Michael Pollan
Food-Related Non-Fiction
1,053 books — 1,641 voters

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La Petite Américaine Cash App: $Covid2020sucks
Is it bad that I'm waiting with baited breath for Marcus Samuelsson to fly just a little too close to the sun? You can bet I'll be there to kick him when he comes crashing down.

You see, this is not a memoir. It's the story of one man's unwavering ambition, and the book itself is just a cog in the massive Marcus Samuelsson self-promotion machine, a small workhorse that gives a little more publicity to the guy who has four restaurants, catered for the Obamas at the White House, and got himself gi
Mar 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
Update May 2013: this book has been awarded the James Beard Foundation's Book Award in the Writing and Literature category

This was a seriously good book. Before I received it I didn't know a lot about Marcus Samuelsson. I haven't watched any of the seasons of Top Chef Masters, and I missed season 7 of the regular Top Chef (which is when he appeared as a judge), so my awareness of him as a chef has been name recognition only. I'm very glad that has changed with reading this memoir.

Immediately up
Aug 01, 2012 rated it it was ok
I feel a bit conflicted in reviewing this memoir. As an aspiring foodie (in the unpretentious sense of the word, hopefully), it was interesting to read about an Ethiopian-born, Swedish-adopted chef who first learned to cook in his adopted grandmother's Scandinavian kitchen and refined his skills through both short and extended cooking gigs around the world. In New York City (where he chose to settle), his newest restaurant, Red Rooster, is located in Harlem, and he references some of his favorit ...more
Petra X can now see through a glass foggily!
He's led an interesting, if not exemplary, life. Is as Scandanavian as he is African and even more American than either. The book is a fast, light read, there isn't a lot of depth, but the story is so interesting, as are some of the pictures, and Samuelsson has such a big heart, it is definitely worth a read. ...more
Oct 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Yes, Chef by European-trained and world-renowned chef Marcus Samuelsson is a beautiful memoir of Samuelsson's Ethiopian roots and adoption of he and his sister by a Swedish family as a small child. Samuelsson writes lovingly, not only of family, but also the development of his passion for food growing up in Sweden and his training throughout Europe, later coming to New York City where he was executive chef of Aquavit and now his own restaurant Red Rooster in Harlem. This is also a loving tribute ...more
Jun 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: overdrive, audio
I don't generally read memoirs, but I've seen this author on several cooking shows and he seemed very personable and his food looked really good, so I tried his book and enjoyed it. The audiobook was read by the author and he did a good job. He writes well and seemed to be trying to avoid being too easy on himself.

Marcus and his older sister were adopted by a Swedish couple after the children's mother died of tuberculosis in Ethiopia. Marcus was about 2 at the time so he has no direct memories
Jenny (Reading Envy)
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 turn
Jul 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
I first "met" Samuelsson when he competed on Season Two of Top Chef Masters. I enjoyed his quiet confidence, his collegial attitude, and his global palate. His memoir provides a lot of great detail about his journey from his grandmother's kitchen to his hosting a White House dinner and then running a Pan-African restaurant in Harlem (with some Swedish dishes and soul food dishes on the menu, reflecting the culture of his adopted parents and his restaurant's historic neighborhood).

He shows how h
Aug 02, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: src-2012
This book is pretty interesting, and the author has had an interesting and exciting life, but it's making me think that he is kind of a pompous ass. I especially have a problem with the way he is portraying his relationship with his daughter. I guess he is being honest, but it's still annoying. He says that when his daughter asked him if he didn't want her, he told her that he did want her, but then earlier in the book when he finds out his one-night-stand is pregnant, he definitely states that ...more
Feb 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir
I have a theory about why Marcus's Daughter, Zoe, wasn't thanked in the acknowledgements, when he thanks just about everyone, including the whole of Harlem. (view spoiler)

When I was in college in nineteen *cough*, guys liked to take girls on
Jun 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Marcus Samuelsson is a genius in the kitchen, but his real skill is in maneuvering. "Yes, Chef" is an intriguing little look at ambition, how to climb to the top of your field and make the most of your friends and family. He's a take no prisoners kind of guy, adept at using people and then losing them. When he realizes his girlfriend is more of a hindrance than a help in his goal to reach the pinnacle of chefdon, he dumps her...but continues to sleep with her and accept free vacations from her p ...more
Dec 12, 2019 rated it it was ok
I didn't finish this book at about 35%, not because it is particularly bad, but because I completely lost interest after the first few chapters.

I've never heard of Marcus Samuelsson before (I don’t live in US and I've never watched American Master Chef). And although I rarely read autobiographies, this one perfectly suited one of my reading challenges, so I decided to give it a chance. Besides, it's the chef's autobiography, what could be wrong with it?! At least, that's what I thought.

And I rea
Mo Shah
Mar 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2013
So the dilemma for me here is twofold.

One, this is an obviously ghostwritten book. The language - especially the sensory details - is so rich and ripe and lucious there is no way that someone who isn't a professional in the field could manage it. So I had to search for it, but in the afterward where he acknowledges folks the first person he thanks the person who helps him tell his story.

The second dilemma is that while I might appreciate Mr. Samuelsson's drive and ambition and talents more afte
Avishek Das
Oct 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I wish this was my story; loved the way it blends culture and life via food. The medium is super lucid but not extravagant. the charm of learning to cook from your grandmother is immaculate.
above all, the essence of cooking is to learn to taste..
very very good read...
I enjoyed this a lot. I think some readers got turned off by Chef Marcus Samuelsson because he makes a lot of personal choices they would not have. But I get it, I had a lot of hard choices to make while I pushed myself forward in my career. I didn't find him heartless, I felt empathy throughout this book.

What's funny is that my parents would get it. A few days after my father died, my mother looked me in the face and said so you're going back to school (I was in my senior year of college). Wh
Book Riot Community
I received this chef memoir in a food-themed Book Riot box, along with an apron, a dishtowel, a charming bookmark, and other goodies. It hadn’t been on my radar previously, but I ended up really enjoying this account of a chef who worked his butt off through years of feeling like an outsider, and who established an identity for himself as someone who was skilled at creating and melding flavors that transcended cultural boundaries.

–Steph Auteri

from The Best Books We Read In July 2016: http://boo
Diane Yannick
I can't rate this book as I chose not to finish it--unusual for me. After reading the first third of the book, I was so bored that I couldn't continue or justify the $13,99 kindle price. I returned it and am relieved not to continue Marcus' journey from one kitchen and locale to the next. I know it's a tough life in the top kitchens and that it's a struggle to get there. I just could not find the compelling narrative. ...more
Jun 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
I finished listening to this on audio earlier today and all I can say is wow. Non fiction and memoirs are typically outside my comfort zone, but I was looking for an audiobook and thought something along those lines would be better because there wouldn’t be a plot to follow.

Turns out, I didn’t want to miss a moment of it and I didn’t struggle to pay attention. Samuelsson reads it himself and while chef lingo is something I don’t understand it was truly awesome to hear him tell his story.

I’ve alw
May 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The professional kitchen world is a brutal environment in which to make a living. Those that survive and thrive in that world are a very special breed - a subculture to themselves with their own set of rules all seem to understand without being talked about. This chef’s memoir is unlike any other I have read. It is more than just a peek behind the swinging kitchen door of a 3 or 4 star restaurant. It’s a look at the racial divide that exists in that world. A divide that exists even at a world-wi ...more
Where do i begin? I guess first--i wanted to read this because i like food and i spend a lot of time reading about Africa. Then i found out that Samuelsson had actually published a cookbook about African food, which i couldn't believe i didn't already know about. And then friends recommended this book very highly. i didn't quite know what i was in for, but this, to me, is a very special memoir.

It's not just about food; it's also about family and race. In this memoir, Samuelsson strikes me as in
Sheila DeChantal
Aug 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Yes Chef delivered everything I hoped it would. Marcus tells his story in an honest and humble tone from beginning to end. My copy of this book is covered in little post it arrows where I marked how he prepared truffles (you add them to the sauce at the very end so as not to cook all the flavor out), and his Spanish breakfast (ripe tomatoes peeled and then crushed on toast adding a grind or two of black pepper), and how to make a lobster lasagna. When curing duck breasts Marcus would soak then i ...more
Disappointing. That is the only way to sum up how I feel about this book. It's a shame since Samuelsson has such an interesting history and story to tell.

I've been following Samuelsson loosely since he left Aquavit. While I didn't watch Top Chef, I followed along interested to see if he would turn out a win. His personal story (African orphan adopted by a Swedish family lands in the US) is very unique in the elite cooking world. I expected to really enjoy hearing his life story and how he came t
Julia Nelson
Dec 28, 2012 rated it it was ok
I liked it, but yep, the ghost writer was bland as others have pointed out. It lacks personality and character. But there are also problems with Marcus, as he is intolerably self-involved. Through out the book he was incredibly self-promoting, humorless, egotistical and frankly selfish. It was also really difficult to read about his treatment of his daughter, although this type of behavior is not unique to Marcus. One is grateful that he had such a lovely mother. Is it just me, or is Marcus real ...more
Niklas Pivic
This was better than I'd expected, although I didn't know much about Samuelsson apart from him being an adopted Swede who's made it in the USA.

In this book, he takes the piss out of himself a lot, which is great; he rarely - if ever - takes the piss out of his profession, even though he once berates the harshess of the system in restaurants, where the hierarchy decides the pecking order. And the peckings are gruesome. Other times, he accepts it and even seems to like it, as I've found a lot of c
Jun 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sep-12
This is the memoir of world-renowned chef Marcus Samuelsson. Born in Ethiopia, raised in Sweden, trained in Europe and now an American.

His story takes us step by step from as a young child tragically losing his mother to a horrible disease, then he and his sister being adopted by a Swedish couple, his many years of school and training traveling through Europe, and ultimately to New York City where he fulfills his dream by becoming a Chef and opening a restaurant where people from all walks of li
Rob Gaston
Jan 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I thought this was going to be another tome of back of the house stories about how rough kitchen life can be. While there was some of that, it was cast in the light of differences in race, gender, class, and nationality. Not only did the book talk about the world of food and kitchens, but is inspirational in terms of what having a singular vision and purpose in your life can do for you. However, it also speaks to the personal costs that can come from that at the same time. I have a lot of respec ...more
Susanna - Censored by GoodReads
Interesting, and very smoothly written. Reads fast.
Mar 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Marcus Samuelsson has had the most unlikely life journey. He was born in Ethiopia where he was orphaned at age three and he and his sister were adopted by a middle-class Swedish couple who already had a biracial foster child. Marcus found his love for cooking in his grandmother's kitchen in Sweden where he went every Saturday to help her prepare the evening's meal. The work ethic and inspiration of his grandmother certainly has stayed with him throughout his culinary career. The culinary journey ...more
Sep 12, 2014 rated it liked it

I know Marcus Samuelsson, the Ethiopian-born, Swedish-raised, now American chef, from a few of his Food Network appearances and he's always seemed like an intelligent, thoughtful, kind man. (That he's talented goes without question.) This memoir fills in the blanks. It's not a great piece of writing, and it's kind of boring. But I'm impressed with how hardworking and humble Samuelsson is. I read a couple consumer reviews of his Harlem restaurant Red Rooster shortly after it opened where people s
Victoria Moore
Mar 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Marcus Samuelsson's memoir "Yes, Chef" went a long and delicious way to changing my mind about fine dining and how global cuisine enhances and fits in with it. Despite my love for most of the cooking programs on the "Food Network," "Cooking Channel," "The Travel Channel" and PBS I still felt like an outsider who was watching great artisans at work in a magical world, until I read this book. Now I feel like a semi-knowledgeable insider! Food, like clothing and shelter, is a basic need that's con ...more
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Marcus Samuelsson is the acclaimed chef behind Red Rooster Harlem, Ginny’s Supper Club, Streetbird Rotisserie, and American Table Cafe and Bar by Marcus Samuelsson; a committed philanthropist; and a New York Times-bestselling author. The youngest person to ever receive a three-star review from The New York Times, Samuelsson has won multiple James Beard Foundation Awards including Best Chef: New Yo ...more

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“But one of the things I have learned during the time I have spent in the United States is an old African American saying: Each one, teach one. I want to believe that I am here to teach one and, more, that there is one here who is meant to teach me. And if we each one teach one, we will make a difference.” 10 likes
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