Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Yes, Chef

Yes, Chef: A Memoir, by Marcus Samuelsson
Source: free Advance Reader's Copy from a GoodReads' FirstReads giveaway for my honest review
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
View on GoodReads

I'm a great lover of food, cooking, cookbooks, and (almost) all things culinary. I've become very disenchanted with the Food Network and most cooking shows on TV, but that doesn't mean the topic doesn't interest me. After finishing this book, I've decided I'd much rather learn about a chef's journey to success in print form, than on my TV screen and I will definitely be seeking out more chef memoirs in the future.

I have a lot of respect for chefs who have worked their asses off to rise through the ranks of what can be a punishing career with long shifts, a less-than-ideal work schedule, and a high-pressure, high-stress work environment for relatively low pay (unless of course, you reach "celebrity" status.") Chefs deal with a lot of physical strain, not to mention the risk of injury, on a daily basis. On top of all that, if you want to live the dream of having your own restaurant, it's an expensive and risky business.

Despite Chef Samuelsson's success, this book made it quite clear that there are no guarantees in this field of work. It was fascinating to learn how Chef Samuelsson made a name for himself and the long, hard journey it took for him to get to where he is today. On top of all that, Marcus has a unique cultural background and I loved reading about all the different stages of his life, all the places he's lived and worked, and all the adventures and challenges he encountered along the way.

It was also eye-opening to read about the inequities, both between races and genders, in the restaurant business. Call me naive, but I had not realized the world of fine dining was so difficult to break into for women and minorities. I loved reading about how Chef Samuelsson has been trying to change the face of the culinary world and how he's made it a point to give a chance (and a job) to people other establishments and other chefs would never let past the front door. That's not to say it always works out, but it's nice to see a chef of his caliber giving back to the community and trying to make a positive difference.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys memoirs, cooking, has ever considered becoming a chef or owning their own restaurant, or anyone who just enjoys a good story.

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