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.
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.
Just over a decade ago, journalist Michael Ruhlman donned a chef's jacket and houndstooth-check pants to join the students at the Culinary Institute of America, the country's oldest and most influential cooking school. But The Making of a Chef is not just about holding a knife or slicing an onion; it's also about the nature and spirit of being a professional cook and the people who enter the profession. As Ruhlman—now an expert on the fundamentals of cooking—recounts his growing mastery of the skills of his adopted profession, he propels himself and his readers through a score of kitchens and classrooms in search of the elusive, unnameable elements of great food.
Incisively reported, with an insider's passion and attention to detail, The Making of a Chef remains the most vivid and compelling memoir of a professional culinary education on record.