Food & Wine Talk, July 26, 2012 — Live from  Whole Foods Market in Coral Gables — An interview with Chef Marcus Samuelsson, hosted by Carole Kotkin and Simone Diament  click here to listen

marcus samuelsson bookChef Marcus Samuelsson, The James Beard Foundation Award-winning chef of New York City’s Red Rooster Harlem and the winner of “Top Chef: Masters”  has had a unique journey chasing flavors and identity—from being orphaned at three in Ethiopia, to learning to love cooking from his grandmother in Sweden, to becoming at twenty-four the youngest chef ever to receive a three-star review from The New York Times for his work at Aquavit, to orchestrating the President’s first State dinner at the White House, before opening his newest restaurant, the popular Red Rooster in Harlem, NYC

In his new book, Yes, Chef, a memoir, chef Samuelsson chronicles his journey from rural Ethiopia, where, as a 3 year old toddler he contracted tuberculosis and lost his mother to the disease, to an idyllic childhood in Sweden, to the  determination and hard work that took him to the kitchens of some of the most celebrated restaurants in Europe and the U.S., and to the inner strength he mustered as a grown man to meet the father he never knew.   Welcome back to Food and Wine Talk, Chef Marcus Samuelsson, as you are getting ready for the book signing at Whole Foods in Coral Gables.

  • What made you pick Whole Foods for your book signing event?
  • Marcus, there is not a single recipe in this book but one can actually taste the food you  made in your search for refining traditional recipes, whether from Sweden or other countries and cultures. You mention going though your old food journals… do you always take notes when you cook?
  • How long did it take you to write this book?
  • What do you hope to achieve by writing this memoir?

marcus samuelsson 1Let’s talk about the title. It can be interpreted in many ways… Yes, Chef… Is it a glorious affirmation that you’ve arrived or is it an obedient Yes, chef that refers to the stereotypical tyranical chefs we hear about?

  • How do you treat your staff?
  • Who is Nils? And what role did he play in your life?

You were going to be a soccer player but luckily for us you gravitated to food. You credit your Swedish grandmother Helga with instilling in you a love of cooking. How did this happen?

  • And what about Uncle Torsten, the fisherman?
  • And then it was Switzerland, France and then New York City. Did you find more freedom of expression in the US?

  • When I last met you in Florida you were the executive chef at Aquavit, a Swedish restaurant in New York City, and just starting to receive recognition for your work; that was 10 years ago in 2002. Did you ever expect to achieve the fame that you have?
    • With all the celebrity and with all the projects outside the restaurant; how do you stay focused on food?
    • Food is changing; no longer do the French rule; what do you see as the future of American cuisine?
    • Tell us about Red Rooster in Harlem
    • Do you identify with the black experience in America?
    • What does your future hold?

 Yes Chef A Memoir is a fascinating book that will captivate aspiring chefs as well as the layman for its stories that reach past racial and national divides, its candor and the tapestry of great food that binds it all. Thank you chef Marcus Samuelsson, author of “Yes chef, a memoir” for being with us today on Food & Wine Talk.

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