Chef Chat

Five Questions for Chef Marcus Samuelsson

For one day this Thursday, July 19, Chef Marcus Samuelsson will be in Houston to promote his book, Yes, Chef: A Memoir. The Ethiopian-born, Swedish-raised, James Beard Award-winning chef, restaurateur, cookbook author and TV personality will spend the early afternoon hosting a sold-out, five-course luncheon collaboration with former colleagues Seth Siegel-Gardner and Terrence Gallivan of The Pass and Provisions.

Then, from 4 to 6 p.m., Samuelsson will make an appearance at Central Market for an exclusive book signing, followed by a sold-out cooking class.

Tickets for the book-signing event, which still has some availability, are just $20, and include a copy of his memoir, which lists for $27. Additional copies will be also be available for purchase. Reservations can be made here.

In anticipation of his visit, we caught up with Samuelsson for a quick Q & A.

EOW: In the past, you've authored cookbooks. What made you decide to do a memoir?

MS: The memoir was five years in the making, and it was something I've thought about doing for a long time. When I started writing down my stories, I kept revising them because I wanted to be as authentic and honest as I could be, so that took longer than I expected -- but I'm proud of what I've put out in Yes, Chef.

EOW: You're still relatively young; do you envision yourself writing a follow-up memoir later on in life?

MS: Right now I am just concentrating on the Yes, Chef tour and enjoying all the people the book has touched. It's been so great to meet the variety of people who come out to the events -- from mothers and their adopted children to young, aspiring chefs, I've enjoyed hearing everyone's stories and thoughts about the book.

EOW: How many cities are you visiting on this book tour? What's been the most memorable stop and why?

MS: It's a 15-city book tour, and so far we've only covered the West Coast. It's hard to say what has been the most memorable, but I can tell you doing the kitchen takeover in L.A. at Son of a Gun, the open fire grill at Camino in Oakland and the tour of Nathan Myhrvold's Cooking Lab in Seattle definitely stand out.

EOW: We're happy to have you in Houston. Will you have time, do you plan to visit, any restaurants while you're here, and if so, which ones?

MS: I'm only in town for the day and am so proud and excited to cook with my good buds Terrence Gallivan and Seth Siegel-Gardner as well as doing a cooking class at Central Market Cooking School. If I have time, I'd love to get recommendations for really local, hole-in-the-wall spots that I must try. 

EOW: If you were to have one last meal, what would it be, who would make it and why? 

MS: That's always such a tough question! I say I'd start with some herring or gravlax and finish with Helga's meatballs. My grandmother would make it, and I'd enjoy it with my Mormor and my mother.

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Mai Pham is a contributing freelance food writer and food critic for the Houston Press whose adventurous palate has taken her from Argentina to Thailand and everywhere in between -- Peru, Spain, Hong Kong and more -- in pursuit of the most memorable bite. Her work appears in numerous outlets at the local, state and national level, where she is also a luxury travel correspondent for Forbes Travel Guide.
Contact: Mai Pham