It was a whirlwind two days for acclaimed chef Marcus Samuelsson, who visited the Bay Area as part of his nationwide book tour for his new memoir, “Yes, Chef.” I got a chance to sit down with Chef Samuelsson for a few minutes after his final stop at Book Passage in the Ferry Building.
Having already written cookbooks, he explained that his new book is something he was deeply passionate about. “It’s really me. Growing up and wanting to be a chef, I never really had a book like this, the backstories of what it’s like to be a chef. When Anthony Bourdain came out with ‘Kitchen Confidential,’ I really saw that it was possible to do a book like this.”
Although he doesn’t visit the Bay Area often, he said he loves it here. One of his first stops was a dinner and signing at Camino in Oakland. He said he sees a lot of similarities between Oakland and the site of his restaurant, Red Rooster, in Harlem. “They are really similar in that both get a bad rap. There is that ingrained stigma. But it was a lot of fun to see what Russell (Moore) is doing at Camino, which is such a great space. I wanted the same with Red Rooster. I wanted it to be about the community and let people know that yes, you can visit Harlem and have a great night out. And I think it’s working.”
The memoir, which takes a look at Samuelsson’s life from tragedy in Ethiopia to his adopted family in Sweden to his move to New York, is full of events that shaped his current life. “There wasn’t really one event that changed me more than any other. It was a lot of different things and different people that I have met that have really helped shape who I am and what I have become as a chef.”
As for what’s next, Samuelsson said he’s excited to continue his travels across the country for his book tour and then head back to New York to keep building up Red Rooster.