Marcus Samuelsson's life story seems unbelievable: orphaned in a tuberculosis epidemic that swept Ethiopia when he was two, he was adopted by a family in Sweden and grew up there, learning to love gravlax and lingonberries.
Samuelsson often cooked with his adoptive grandmother, and when his hopes of being a professional soccer player were dashed, he turned to the restaurant industry. He cooked in Sweden, Switzerland, France, Austria and on cruise ships--working long, hard hours for little pay in his determination to become a top chef. His passion for cuisine eventually brought him to New York City, where he unexpectedly became the executive chef at Aquavit, snagging three stars from the New York Times when he was just 24. And his meteoric rise to chef super-stardom hasn't ended there.
Yes, Chef is the story of Samuelsson's fascinating career and life. As an American citizen who is ethnically Ethiopian and culturally Swedish, he defies categorization. As one of a very few top-tier black chefs, he frankly discusses his attempts to help other young black people follow the trail he has blazed. The reader is drawn into both the fast-paced world of the professional kitchen and Samuelsson's complicated African-European-American life. Yes, Chef will make your mouth water with vivid descriptions of food and enthrall you with images of Sweden, Ethiopia and New York City. Samuelsson not only knows how to craft decadent, exotic meals; he also knows how to write a very compelling story. --Jessica Howard, blogger at Quirky Bookworm