Published by Random House
Marcus Samuelsson was only three years old when he, his mother, and his sister—all battling tuberculosis—walked seventy-five 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 twenty-four.
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.
"The universal rule of kitchen work, Marcus Samuelsson says in his crisp new memoir, Yes, Chef, goes as follows: 'Stay invisible unless you’re going to shine.' That rule applies to writers too, especially to those who would write food memoirs. Because you like to put things in your mouth does not mean you have a story to tell. Mr. Samuelsson, as it happens, possesses one of the great culinary stories of our time ...
"Yes, Chef, which was written with Veronica Chambers, chalks in the details of Mr. Samuelsson’s story with modesty and tact. What lifts this book beyond being merely the plainly told story of an interesting life is Mr. Samuelsson’s filigreed yet often pointed observations about why so few black chefs have risen to the top of the culinary world." -- Dwight Garner, New York Times
"Although she is not credited on the book's cover or title page, writer Veronica Chambers receives lavish thanks for 'her incredible gift for storytelling' in the acknowledgments. I don't know who is responsible for the book's eloquence and heart, but this was a very fruitful collaboration: I read Yes, Chef in one sitting." -- Erica Marcus, Newsday
“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, bestselling 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, bestselling author of Blood, Bones, & Butter
“The pleasures of this memoir are numerous. Marcus Samuelsson’s life, like his cooking, reflects splendidly multicultural influences and educations, and he writes about it all with an abundance of flavor and verve. A delicious read.”—Henry Louis Gates, Jr.