October 9, 2013

Chef Marcus Samuelsson interviewed by Google

Google has two underrated YouTube Channels. The first one is Google Tech Talks where you can watch recorded lectures from Google that are dealing with technical subjects. The second channel is At Google Talks which is similar to the first channel but the lectures are less technical. Among other occupations, you can see interviews with politicians, authors, and chefs. One of the chefs interviewed is Marcus Samuelsson.


Marcus Samuelsson was born in Ethiopia. When his mother died from an illness, and his father didn't know the siblings had survived the same illness because he was in another village, everyone thought Marcus Samuelsson and his sister were orphans, so they were adopted by Swedish parents. When he grew up in Sweden, Marcus Samuelsson wanted to become a soccer player, but his coach thought he was too weak compared with the rest of the team, so the team kicked him out. The interesting part here is the then unknown fact that Marcus Samuelsson was one year younger compared with his team. No-one knew how old he was when he was adopted, so the immigration department had to guess. This might have been the reason to why he was not as athletic as the rest of the team.

Soccer was Marcus Samuelsson's life, and when he was forced to leave his beloved soccer team, he was really angry, but calmed down and decided to become the best chef in the world. To become the best, he realized he had to practice with the best. The best chefs didn't live in Sweden, so Marcus Samuelsson traveled around the world to work at the best restaurants. Before he settled in New York, he worked in Austria, Switzerland, France, and on a cruise ship.

In his biography, Yes, Chef, he explained how he had to give up everything to be able to become the best. He didn't have time to meet his then girlfriend and daughter, and because he was so exhausted from the pressure to perform, he had to learn how to sneak away from the kitchen unnoticed so he could throw up in the bathroom. But the long hours gave a result and he became a chef at the restaurant Aquavit (the name originates from a Scandinavian liquor) in New York. To find new dishes to serve, he traveled around New York on roller skates. He tested everything he could find, and to afford the most expensive dishes, he had to eat the dishes without any wine.

At the end of the book, he talked about how he had been responsible for the first state dinner of the Barack Obama presidency. After the dinner, the President visited the kitchen. One team was so exhausted that he said "Yes, Chef" when the President had asked him a question. When Marcus Samuelsson came back to New York, he served the same food as he had served the President to the neighboring kids. He though they might become as inspired as Marcus Samuelsson had when he worked in the kitchen with his grandmother.

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