To get away from politics, I’m doing a review of a book that I thoroughly enjoyed: YES, CHEF: A MEMOIR  by Marcus Samuelsson.

I just finished reading this book by Samuelsson, a famous chef and someone with a most interesting background and heritage. Published in 2012 (Random House), Chef Samuelsson’s memoir written with journalist Veronica Chambers, describes Marcus’s early years in Ethiopia.

Named Kassahun Tsegie at birth, his mother died of tuberculosis (during an epidemic) at the age of 28, leaving Marcus and his sister Linda orphaned. Or so they thought. Years later Marcus found his father, along with step-sisters and step-brothers, in Ethiopia.

Marcus and Linda were adopted by a white Swedish couple, Lennart and Anne-Marie Samuelsson, who lived in Goteborg. The couple had been searching for a son in Asian and African countries, where children were often orphaned. The had already established what many considered a “blended” family, which included a foster child, Anna, whose parents were Jamaican and Swedish.

Although Marcus loved soccer and wanted to be a pro, he also was drawn to cooking, which he learned with the help of his grandmother Helga. Marcus’s book chronicles his many ups and downs (failures & successes), and his experiences at the Culinary Institute in Gothenburg, Sweden; apprenticeships in Switzerland, France, United States; and becoming Executive Chef of Aquavit in New York City at the age of 23. He also has written cookbooks and has toured frequently. Marcus has opened numerous restaurants, including Red Rooster Harlem.

In 2009, he married Gate Maya Haile, an Ethiopian-born model. Their marriage took place in Ethiopia with families and friends from the U.S, and Europe in attendance. That same year, 2009, Marcus cooked the first State Dinner for President Barack Obama and the Prime Minister of India. He has had numerous other honors.

Yes, Chef should be in most public libraries. I downloaded my copy from my local library’s virtual site and read it on my laptop. I enjoyed. Bet you will too. And you will learn why people working  in restaurants always say “Yes, Chef” to whatever the chef orders.

Author: Kathlyn Gay

Author of 120 nonfiction books for young adults and adults, including encyclopedias and other reference titles

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