Sunday, July 08, 2012
Marcus Samuelsson Talks New Memoir: ‘Yes, Chef"
July 2, 2012 - Culture Beast
Success frequently comes at a cost. People get stepped on. Others get left by the wayside. Marcus Samuelsson, the celebrity chef, knows this better than most.
Shortly after getting out of school, at the beginning of his professional odyssey, he made an enormously stupid decision. One night, in Bad Gastein, Austria, where he was working at a restaurant, he had sex with a young woman and failed to use protection. She became pregnant, and though Samuelson agreed to make monthly payments for his child, it was years before he stepped up to the plate and truly became the girl’s father.
During his 20s his grandmother died, and although she was a crucial figure in his life—the first person who really taught him about food—he was away working on a cruise ship and did not come home for her funeral.
Nor did he show up when his father died, and he was by then the chef at Aquavit, a much-lauded Swedish restaurant in New York that Samuelsson took over in 1994 at the age of 24.
But it did not take a private detective or a biographer like Walter Isaacson to uncover these transgressions. Instead, they are presented to us by Samuelsson himself, in a new and frequently exhilarating memoir, Yes, Chef.
As Samuelsson tells it over lunch at his celebrated Harlem eatery, Red Rooster, he wouldn't have it any other way. He’d been a huge fan of Andre Agassi's memoir, Open (in which the former tennis player detailed with amazing candor his struggle with drugs) and Gabrielle Hamilton’s Blood, Bones, and Butter (in which the chef of Prune discusses everything from stealing as a teenager to carrying on an affair with a woman while married to a man.)