Monday, December 17, 2012

I Read -- He Cooks: Marcus Samuelsson

Marcus Samuelsson is more than a cook and his book Yes, Chef is not a cookbook but a memoir of his life-and what a life it’s been. As a small child in Ethiopia he, his sister and his mother walked 75 miles to a hospital in Addis Adaba to get treatment for tuberculosis.  His mother died from the disease, but he and his sister were soon adopted by a white middle-class family in Sweden. He credits his birth mother with saving his life and his new family with creating a loving home in which he thrived and learned about food. Growing up, he spent most Saturdays helping his new grandmother Helga cook her specialties and feed the family.  He attended culinary school in Sweden, worked in European restaurants and on cruise ships and  became a three-star chef at New York City’s Aquavit at age 24, in addition to winning the second season of Bravo’s Top Chef Masters and serving as a guest chef at the White House. His current restaurant, Red Rooster, is in Harlem.

What does it take to do this?  He comes across as a consummate professional, with a determination to succeed, the self-confidence to keep moving forward despite setbacks, an appreciation for other’s skills, a willingness to mentor, and a dedication to his craft. He takes you behind the scenes from the perfect presentation at your table to the grunt work in less-than-optimal conditions.

Why does he keep striving?

Food and flavors have become my first language…You can never sit back and relax: The only thing I know for sure is that I will always be in love with flavor-driven food. Food’s my only bag. It’s my gig, my art, my life.

It’s a great story from a great chef.

Yes, Chef is available in hardcover, audiobook, and eBook at the Mountain View Public Library

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