October 18th, 2012
This was better than I’d expected, although I didn’t know much about Samuelsson apart from him being an adopted Swede who’s made it in the USA.
In this book, he takes the piss out of himself a lot, which is great; he rarely – if ever – takes the piss out of his profession, even though he once berates the harshess of the system in restaurants, where the hierarchy decides the pecking order. And the peckings are gruesome. Other times, he accepts it and even seems to like it, as I’ve found a lot of cooks do, masochistically. Maybe they should look up to “high-echelon” chefs like Thomas Keller, who seems to run their kitchens with respect and no stress as top priorities.
Samuelsson writes about being an outsider, not only in Sweden (as a black person, he was subject to racism as Sweden is still a xenophobic country in a variety of ways) but also in the cooking world. Still, time and time, he shows that hard work and dedication pays off. Always.
And he does this without braggadocio or any kind of loud-mouthed pretentiousness, which other chefs – notably Gordon Ramsay, who called Samuelsson and called him a “black bastard” according to this book – display all too well.
All in all, a seemingly honest portrayal that wears thin towards the end, but during the first 75% is very readable.