Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson


15 Critic Reviews

Marcus Samuelsson’s “Yes, Chef” comes as a welcome breath of fresh air. Not only is it an old-school culinary memoir, but it’s also one of the best around.
-LA Times



“One of the great culinary stories of our time.”—Dwight Garner, The New York Times
It begins with a simple ritual: Every Saturday afternoon, a boy who loves to cook walks to his grandmother’s house and helps her prepare a roast chicken for dinner. The grandmother is Swedish, a retired domestic. The boy is Ethiopian and adopted, and he will grow up to become the world-renowned chef Marcus Samuelsson. This book is his love letter to food and family in all its manifestations. Yes, Chef chronicles Samuelsson’s journey, from his grandmother’s kitchen to his arrival in New York City, where his outsize talent and ambition finally come together at Aquavit, earning him a New York Times three-star rating at the age of twenty-four. But Samuelsson’s career of chasing flavors had only just begun—in the intervening years, there have been White House state dinners, career crises, reality show triumphs, and, most important, the opening of Red Rooster in Harlem. At Red Rooster, Samuelsson has fulfilled his dream of creating a truly diverse, multiracial dining room—a place where presidents rub elbows with jazz musicians, aspiring artists, and bus drivers. It is a place where an orphan from Ethiopia, raised in Sweden, living in America, can feel at home.

Praise for Yes, Chef
“Such an interesting life, told with touching modesty and remarkable candor.”—Ruth Reichl
“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
“Plenty of celebrity chefs have a compelling story to tell, but none of them can top [this] one.”—The Wall Street Journal
“Elegantly written . . . Samuelsson has the flavors of many countries in his blood.”—The Boston Globe
“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


About Marcus Samuelsson

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A James Beard Award-winning chef and author of several cookbooks, Marcus Samuelsson has appeared on Today, Charlie Rose, Iron Chef, and Top Chef Masters, where he took first place. In 1995, for his work at Aquavit, Samuelsson became the youngest chef ever to receive a three-star review from The New York Times. His newest restaurant, Red Rooster, recently opened in Harlem, where he lives with his wife.
Published June 26, 2012 by Random House. 337 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Cooking, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense. Non-fiction
Bestseller Status:
Peak Rank on Jul 15 2012
Weeks as Bestseller
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Critic reviews for Yes, Chef
All: 15 | Positive: 13 | Negative: 2


May 15 2012

Samuelsson strikes a skillful balance between the personal and the professional—recommended for those interested in pursuing a career as a chef or those curious about the secrets behind high-end dining.

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NY Times

Reviewed by Craig Seligman on Jul 27 2012

His rise is gratifying to read about, partly because he never sounds as if he’s crowing.

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NY Times

Reviewed by Dwight Garner on Jun 26 2012

“Yes, Chef” is a good book to give to the aspiring professional cook in your life because its abiding theme is the brutal and selfless work that must undergird culinary inspiration.

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WSJ online

Below average
Reviewed by BARI WEISS on Jul 13 2012

Unfortunately, the section dealing with more recent events in Mr. Samuelsson's life feels rushed.

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The Washington Post

Below average
Reviewed by Robin Shulman

Samuelsson’s story is sometimes repetitive, contradictory and emotionally incomplete.

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USA Today

Reviewed by Craig Wilson on Jul 08 2012

Good news for those who have been lucky enough to dine in his restaurants. Reading this very sincere memoir isn't a bad way to feast, either.

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The Boston Globe

Reviewed by Devra First on Jun 26 2012

For anyone interested in a career in the kitchen, “Yes, Chef” is required reading. It strips away any misbegotten notions of glamour that aspiring chefs may have gleaned from food television.

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Oregon Live

Reviewed by Grant Butler on Jul 02 2012

The result is a nuanced portrait of a chef finding his place in the world.

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Reviewed by Erica Marcus on Jun 21 2012

The story of Samuelsson's development as a chef is beautifully told

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Watermark Books And Cafe

Reviewed by Melissa Fox

it's a marvelous foody memoir. Enough so, that I would love to step into his world, just to taste the dishes he made sound so delicious on the page.

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LA Times

Reviewed by Russ Parsons on Jul 03 2012

Marcus Samuelsson’s “Yes, Chef” comes as a welcome breath of fresh air. Not only is it an old-school culinary memoir, but it’s also one of the best around.

Read Full Review of Yes, Chef | See more reviews from LA Times


Reviewed by Jennie Yabroff on Jun 27 2012

his memoir is a fascinating look at his journey from a sick-to-his-stomach thwarted soccer player to a self-assured game changer in the world of fine cuisine.

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Serious Eats

Reviewed by Leah Douglas on Aug 12 2012

Samuelsson conveys his passion for food and details his long and driven journey to the top, while still recognizing and considering the broader impact of his work.

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Reviewed by Will Coviello on Jul 17 2012 recounts a unique journey and inspired vision of food connecting disparate people and places.

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Pen & Fork

Reviewed by Linda Avery on Jul 11 2012

The book underscores the drive and hard work necessary to succeed in the culinary field, and the choices one man made...Maybe the book was cathartic for him. For the rest of us, it’s a good read.

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Corinna Nunn

Corinna Nunn 5 Sep 2013

Added the book to want to read list