Dani Lieberman


Yes Chef!

On days where I have an afternoon alone there's nothing I love more than curling up with a book. Books constantly help me escape the head noise I face daily. This weeks choice is Marcus Samuelssons Yes Chef. Samuelsson recounts his extraordinary life in and out of the kitchen.  In my opinion he possesses one of the greatest culinary stories of our time.

His Ethiopian heritage lead him on a journey through poverty, illness and tuberculosis. Along with his mother and sister, they trudged more than 75 miles in the terrible heat to a hospital in Addis Ababa, where his mother unfortunately died. Orphaned, the pair found themselves on an airplane a year later, adopted by a white, middle-class family in Goteborg, Sweden. I don't want to give it all away, but it gets good!

You may know some of Samuelssons most recent accolades but it started in 1995, when he cooked for Aquavit in New York. He became the youngest chef to receive a three-star rating from The New York Times. Eight years later, the James Beard Foundation named him the best chef in New York City. And in 2009, he cooked for President Obama's first state dinner. Now the owner of Red Rooster in Harlem, you'll find him interpreting Southern comfort-food using his blended Swedish and African influences into dishes like hamachi meatballs with berbere, an Ethiopian spice mix.

Yes, Chef is a tale of personal discovery, unshakable determination, and the passionate, playful pursuit of flavors. Throughout the book you continually see one man’s struggle to find a place for himself in the kitchen, and in the world. This book is his love letter to food and family in all its manifestations.