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Diversity, Family, and Pickled Herring: an IN Food Book Club Discussion

It’s not every day you can discuss the merits of Pudgy Pies, what it’s like to de-feather a chicken, and the struggles of high-profile kitchens all at once. Yes, Chef, written by celebrity and world-renowned chef Marcus Samuelsson the perfect pick for us at this time in our lives, when we all long for The Before Times of dining in at a restaurant without a care in the world. If you want to purchase Yes, Chef, we recommend searching on IndieBound, a site that connects you with independently owned bookstores near you. 

Only a handful of us have worked back-of-house in the restaurant industry, but since we love food and everything that surrounds it, we were well versed in the lingo and culture detailed by Samuelsson. Anita loved how focused on “layers of flavor” the chef was throughout the book, never once settling for anything less than perfect. The emphasis on seasonal flavors in particular reminded Maggie of some of the work we do often for our clients. “It’s not only independent restaurants that are focused on keeping taste on trend and seasonally timed, everyone in the food industry knows how important it can be.” 

Food as a source of familial memory was a theme in the memoir that stood out to all of us, because we’re connected to our roots via food. Lori still uses her grandmother’s aluminum measuring cups, which helps her “feel like she’s right there with me.” Dustin’s family collected sap from their property and made maple syrup on the weekends, and Ciara grew up camping and making meals with a beachside bonfire. Her favorite childhood trail-side treat? Pudgy Pies, a calzone like dish made with a flipping cast iron sandwich maker.

We were all impacted by this memoir of Samuelsson’s in very different ways. Some yearned for the days of dining inside, or traveling the world and experiencing diverse flavors and styles of cooking. There wasn’t one of us who wasn’t inspired by Samuelsson’s drive and passion for his goals, and the idea of “Turning yourself over to what you’re doing.” Lori was struck by his self-assuredness. “He always understood who he was and who he needed to be.” 

If our book club observations didn’t convince you to read this incredible memoir, consider this: while reading we all felt the desire to try out leeks and lingonberries. As they say in Sweden, Smaklig måltid! 

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