Yes, Chef: A Memoir

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JAMES BEARD AWARD NOMINEE • NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY VOGUE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

“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
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About the author

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.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Random House
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Published on
Jun 26, 2012
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Pages
336
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ISBN
9780440338819
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Culinary
Biography & Autobiography / Cultural, Ethnic & Regional / General
Biography & Autobiography / Personal Memoirs
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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In this captivating new memoir, award-winning writer Jessica B. Harris recalls her youth “surrounded by some of the most famous creative minds of the seventies and eighties…James Baldwin, Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, Nina Simone” (New York magazine)—in a vibrant, lost era of New York City.

In the Technicolor glow of the early seventies, Jessica B. Harris debated, celebrated, and danced her way from the jazz clubs of the Manhattan’s West Side to the restaurants of Greenwich Village, living out her buoyant youth alongside the great minds of the day—luminaries like Maya Angelou, James Baldwin, and Toni Morrison. My Soul Looks Back is her tribute to that fascinating social circle and their shared commitment to activism, intellectual engagement, and each other.

With “simmering warmth” (The New York Times), Harris paints evocative portraits of her illustrious friends: Baldwin as he read aloud an early draft of If Beale Street Could Talk, Angelou cooking in her California kitchen, and Morrison relaxing at Baldwin’s house in Provence. Harris describes her role as theater critic for the New York Amsterdam News and editor at then-burgeoning Essence magazine; star-studded parties in the South of France; drinks at Mikell’s, a hip West Side club; and the simple joy these extraordinary people took in each other’s company. At the center is Harris’s relationship with Sam Floyd, a fellow professor at Queens College, who introduced her to Baldwin.

More than a memoir of friendship and first love, My Soul Looks Back is a carefully crafted, intimately understood homage to a bygone era and the people that made it so remarkable.
“Kwame Onwuachi’s story shines a light on food and culture not just in American restaurants or African American communities but around the world.” —Questlove
 
By the time he was twenty-seven years old, Kwame Onwuachi (winner of the 2019 James Beard Foundation Award for Rising Star Chef of the Year) had opened—and closed—one of the most talked about restaurants in America. He had launched his own catering company with twenty thousand dollars that he made from selling candy on the subway, yet he’d been told he would never make it on television because his cooking wasn’t “Southern” enough. In this inspiring memoir about the intersection of race, fame, and food, he shares the remarkable story of his culinary coming-of-age.

Growing up in the Bronx, as a boy Onwuachi was sent to rural Nigeria by his mother to “learn respect.” However, the hard-won knowledge gained in Africa was not enough to keep him from the temptation and easy money of the streets when he returned home. But through food, he broke out of a dangerous downward spiral, embarking on a new beginning at the bottom of the culinary food chain as a chef on board a Deepwater Horizon cleanup ship, before going on to train in the kitchens of some of the most acclaimed restaurants in the country and appearing as a contestant on Top Chef.

Onwuachi’s love of food and cooking remained a constant throughout, even when he found the road to success riddled with potholes. As a young chef, he was forced to grapple with just how unwelcoming the world of fine dining can be for people of color, and his first restaurant, the culmination of years of planning, shuttered just months after opening. A powerful, heartfelt, and shockingly honest story of chasing your dreams—even when they don’t turn out as you expected—Notes from a Young Black Chef is one man’s pursuit of his passions, despite the odds.

“This is an astonishing and open-hearted story from one of the next generation’s stars of the culinary world. I am so excited to see what the future holds for Chef Kwame—he is a phoenix, rising into better and better things and showing us all what it means to be humble, hungry, and daring.” —José Andrés
"Outstanding biography . . . If you never read it, you should. It's an amazing story."
--Louisiana Cookin'

Leah Lange Chase was raised in a small, country town across Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans. With the values instilled in her by devoted parents--hard work, faith, and family--she soon grew into a woman to be reckoned with. In her roles as chef of the most popular Creole restaurant in New Orleans, nationally respected patron of the arts, and civic leader, she has influenced the world around her in important ways. Reading her story makes one think, "If she can do it, maybe I can too."

After rejecting the usual occupations for respectable Creole girls to work in a restaurant in the French Quarter, Leah married Edgar "Dooky" Chase II and began running the kitchen for her mother-in-law. After her mother-in-law's death, Leah nurtured the former po' boy shop and numbers business into a world-class restaurant. Dooky Chase's was one of a handful of restaurants in the country where African Americans could sit down to a nice meal in well-appointed surroundings. The restaurant was and still is frequented by prominent African American actors, athletes, artists, writers, and musicians. It has also always been a gathering place for local politicians and activists.

Leah Chase has become a living legend for popularizing Creole cuisine, for her political activism, for her tireless work for numerous organizations, and for her extensive art collection. Through it all, she raised four children and survived the sudden loss of the daughter with whom she worked closely and a bombing during the Civil Rights era. What has borne her through it all is perhaps the most compelling aspect of this amazing woman: her faith and her family.

In this long-awaited book, Marcus Samuelsson introduces the simple techniques and exciting combinations that have won him worldwide acclaim and placed Scandinavian cooking at the forefront of the culinary scene. Whether it's a freshly interpreted Swedish classic or a dramatically original creation, each one of the dishes has been flawlessly recreated for the home cook. Every recipe has a masterful touch that makes it strikingly new: the contrasting temperatures of Warm Beef Carpaccio in Mushroom Tea, the pleasing mix of creamy and crunchy textures in Radicchio, Bibb, and Blue Cheese Salad, the cornflake coating on a delightful rendition of Marcus's favorite "junk food," Crispy Potatoes.
In "The Raw and the Cured," Marcus presents the cornerstone dishes of the Scandinavian repertoire, from a traditional Gravlax with Mustard Sauce (which gets just the right balance from a little coffee) to the internationally inspired Pickled Herring Sushi-Style. The clean, precise flavors of this food are reminiscent of Japanese cuisine but draw upon accessible Western ingredients.
Marcus shows how to prepare foolproof dinners for festive occasions: Crispy Duck with Glogg Sauce, Herb-Roasted Rack of Lamb, and Prune-Stuffed Pork Roast. Step by step, offering many suggestions for substitutions and shortcuts, he guides you through the signature dishes that have made Aquavit famous, like Dill-Crusted Arctic Char with Pinot Noir Sauce, Pan-Roasted Venison Chops with Fruit and Berry Chutney, and Fois Gras "Ganache." But you'll also find dozens of homey, comforting dishes that Marcus learned from his grandmother, like Swedish Roast Chicken with Spiced Apple Rice, Chilled Potato-Chive Soup, Blueberry Bread, Corn Mashed Potatoes, ethereal Swedish Meatballs with Quick Pickled Cucumbers, and Swedish Pancakes with Lingonberry Whipped Cream.
From simplest-ever snacks like Sweet and Salty Pine Nuts and Barbecued Boneless Ribs, to satisfying sandwiches like Gravlax Club, to vibrant jams and salsas and homemade flavored aquavits, Marcus Samuelsson's best recipes are here. Lavishly photographed, Aquavit and the New Scandinavian Cuisine provides all the inspiration and know-how needed for stunning success in the kitchen.
NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST NONFICTION BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY TIME

The back must slave to feed the belly. . . . In this urgent and unique book, chef Michael Gibney uses twenty-four hours to animate the intricate camaraderie and culinary choreography in an upscale New York restaurant kitchen. Here readers will find all the details, in rapid-fire succession, of what it takes to deliver an exceptional plate of food—the journey to excellence by way of exhaustion.
 
Told in second-person narrative, Sous Chef is an immersive, adrenaline-fueled run that offers a fly-on-the-wall perspective on the food service industry, allowing readers to briefly inhabit the hidden world behind the kitchen doors, in real time. This exhilarating account provides regular diners and food enthusiasts alike a detailed insider’s perspective, while offering fledgling professional cooks an honest picture of what the future holds, ultimately giving voice to the hard work and dedication around which chefs have built their careers.
 
In a kitchen where the highest standards are upheld and one misstep can result in disaster, Sous Chef conjures a greater appreciation for the thought, care, and focus that go into creating memorable and delicious fare. With grit, wit, and remarkable prose, Michael Gibney renders a beautiful and raw account of this demanding and sometimes overlooked profession, offering a nuanced perspective on the craft and art of food and service.
 
Praise for Sous Chef
 
“This is excellent writing—excellent!—and it is thrilling to see a debut author who has language and story and craft so well in hand. Though I would never ask my staff to read my own book, I would happily require them to read Michael Gibney’s.”—Gabrielle Hamilton
 
“[Michael] Gibney has the soul of a poet and the stamina of a stevedore. . . . Tender and profane, his book will leave you with a permanent appreciation for all those people who ‘desire to feed, to nourish, to dish out the tasty bits of life.’”—The New York Times Book Review
 
“A terrific nuts-and-bolts account of the real business of cooking as told from the trenches. No nonsense. This is what it takes.”—Anthony Bourdain
 
“A wild ride, not unlike a roller coaster, and the reader experiences all the drama, tension, exhilaration, exhaustion and relief that accompany cooking in an upscale Manhattan restaurant.”—USA Today
 
“Vibrantly written.”—Entertainment Weekly
 
“Sizzling . . . Such culinary experience paired with linguistic panache is a rarity.”—The Daily Beast
 
“Reveals the high-adrenaline dance behind your dinner.”—NPR
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