When Marcus Samuelsson was only three, his mother died in a tuberculosis epidemic in Ethiopia. Along with his older sister, Samuelsson was adopted and raised in Göteborg, Sweden, where he developed a life-long love for food. Yes, Chef is his memoir of growing up as a black child in an overwhelmingly white country, his struggle to work his way up the kitchen chain of command, and his return to Ethiopia in search of his birth family. Now an award-winning chef in New York City, Samuelsson delivers honest and insightful reflections on family, race, immigration, and the restaurant world.
“It wasn’t just the flavors that knocked me on my ass. It was seeing different people holding it, preparing it, serving it. Sometimes the chefs were not in the white jackets, and it wasn’t only men, it was women, it was children, it was everyone. There were Indians, blacks, Koreans, mixed people. When I had my own restaurant someday, I thought, I would never rule out someone based on race or sex or nationality. I wouldn’t do it because it was egalitarian, I’d do it because cutting people out meant cutting off talent and opportunity, people who could bring more to the table than I could ever imagine. I felt like I was climbing aboard a new food train, one that I’m still on to this day.”
Marcus Samuelsson is a chef, author, and restaurant owner. Born in Ethiopia and raised in Sweden, he has worked in restaurants across the globe. In 2003, the James Beard Foundation recognized him as “Best Chef: New York City”, and in 2010 he won the Top Chef Masters competition.
Length: 319 pages
Main Settings: Göteborg, Sweden; New York City, New York, United States
Secondary Settings: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Interlaken, Switzerland