Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Utah Chef Is National Pastry Chef of the Year

Adalberto Diaz Labrada, ACF's Pastry Chef of the Year

  Adalberto Diaz Labrada, executive chef and instructor at Harmons City Creek store, showed off his culinary skills in the American Culinary Federation's national contest in Orlando in July. The chefs had 2 1/2 hours to prepare and serve both a hot and cold dessert, as well as a sugar-chocolate sculpture. He walked away with the Pastry Chef of the Year title and $5,000.
In the national competition, Diaz Labrada's winning desserts were inspired by the movie "Avatar." He made a chocolate jaconde (a thin cake) with coconut mousse, pineapple compote and mango gelée; and a habanero dark chocolate pot de cr?e with hazelnut florentine, orange brioche doughnut and orange blueberry sauce.
Diaz Labrada won the Western Regional competition earlier this year with warm pineapple upside-down date pudding cake with coconut mascarpone mousse and pineapple orange sorbet.

 A native of Cuba, he graduated from the International School for Tourism Entertainment in Havana. He immigrated to the U.S. in 2000, and began working as a baker at Granato's. He was a culinary instructor at Utah Valley University in Orem before getting hired as a cooking instructor at Harmons' downtown City Creek store earlier this year.
Diaz Labrada is part of the team of employees that Bob and Randy Harmon praise for the company's longevity. At a time when huge corporations and big-box stores have taken over the grocery industry, the local independent company has managed to survive, and even thrive.
"We wouldn't be here 80 years later if we didn't have amazing, incredible people," said Bob Harmon, the company's vice president.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Rachael Ray's Book of Burger

Rachael Ray offers some tips for cooking burgers in her cookbook, "The Book of Burger" (Atria, $14.99)
It's a collection of 200 recipes for burgers, sliders, side dishes, sloppies (as in Joes), hot dogs, sandwiches, sauces and toppings.  These include a few burgers created by trophy-winning chefs from her annual Burger Bashes, such as Iron Chef Michael Symon and Bobby Flay.
Most of us think summer grilling and burgers belong together. But Ray prefers cooking hers indoors on a cast-iron skillet, with a little drizzle of her favorite catchphrase, "EVOO." 
"Griddles and cast-iron skillets create a delicious crust on the meat, resulting in deeply flavored burgers, while outdoor grilling can hide flavors in char and smoke." she writes. ""By all means, if you like to get your char on, take my burgers for a walk outside."
Some of her tips: Before you form patties, bring the meat to room temperature and pat off excess liquid using a paper towel.
When you form patties, make the center of the patty thinner than the edges, because patties plump when you cook them.
Vary your rolls — brioche, Kaiser, ciabatta and so on. She likes slicing up loaves of white bread into half-inch thick slices for patty melts.
When using ground turkey, she prefers a white and dark meat blend that's heavier on the dark meat. If you use ground turkey breast, you'll need to compensate for the leanness with moisture from vegetables or adding fats like olive oil to keep the meat from drying out.
In the future, I intend to use this book to expand my own horizons, one burger at a time.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Johnny Rockets and BRIO Tuscan Grill Coming to City Creek

So what new restaurants can we expect to join City Creek Center? Some of Salt Lake's foodies are commenting on Facebook their disappointment that the upcoming eateries are, once again, chains.
I like Johnny Rocket's, and I like BRIO Tuscan Grill, both slated to open. And yes, I even like Cheesecake Factory, probably the best-known restaurant when City Creek debuted in downtown Salt Lake a few months ago.  But I'd also like to see a few independent restaurants open up shop so that visitors can enjoy some local flavors as well. 

While I was the food editor at the Deseret News, I would chat with food writers and cookbook authors passing through town on book tours, writing assignments or vacations.  When they asked about places to eat, they were all interested in trying some of the "uniquely Utah" places they had heard about — The Lion House as Brigham Young's historic home, Pago, the Red Iguana, the New Yorker, even Hires Big H. None of them asked for directions to the nearest Cheesecake Factory or Olive Garden.  

But then again, a lot of people like the familiarity of a chain restaurant — that's why there are so many of them. You know what to expect. 
Still, it would be nice to see more local restaurants at City Creek, with menus beyond sandwiches. I like Blue Lemon's upscale vibe and its butternut squash soup, but it's still a fast-casual, order-at-the-counter place. 
Maybe the dearth of local hot spots is an advantage to established restaurateurs, as people looking for a change from chains will venture across the street and find places like Martine and Cafe Molise. 

Anyway, Johnny Rockets is coming in November.  An international restaurant chain offering the food, fun and friendliness of feel-good Americana since 1986, Johnny Rockets offers classic burgers and sandwiches, hand-spun shakes and American fries served with the trademarked “ketchup smiley face.” The juke box plays oldies and the staff will break out in a dance routine every so often. 
BRIO Tuscan Grille serves northern Italian cuisine in a Tuscan villa atmosphere. It's more upscale than Olive Garden but still reasonably priced.  The menu features wood-grilled and oven-roasted steaks, chops and seafood as well as made-to-order pastas, inspired appetizers, pizza, and salads. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Chilling Out with Herbal-Infused Drinks

Minted Apple Juice and Basil Berry Spritzer

Let your herb garden punch up the flavor in your usual lemonade, fruity spritzers and other cool drinks that help you beat the heat during summer. I came up with the idea for this Deseret News story when I was at Deer Valley's Savor the Summit dinner. They were serving a cocktail called Rosemary Radler, a rosemary-infused lemonade mixed with High West vodka and Squatters Provo Girl Pilsner. Since I don't drink alcohol, I asked for the rosemary lemonade by itself, and I was pleasantly surprised. The pine-y essence of rosemary gave a compelling edge to the usual lemonade, in the same way that adding a squeeze of lemon or lime gives a little more flavor to a soft drink.  The next day at home, I tried perking up my sugar-free lemonade with some basil from my garden, and loved the combination. I've already made batches of lavender lemonade after doing a story on lavender a few years ago. So, a story idea was born.    
Herbal Essence: Adding a Hint of Flavor to Cool Drinks

Lemonades with infused with rosemary, basil, and lavender.

Basil, rosemary and thyme are most often used in savory dishes, but they can add an unexpected complexity when infused with beverages. I really like adding mint to sweet apple juice. 
Since I have basil, rosemary, thyme, mint, oregano, lavender and sage growing in my yard, I started experimenting. I wasn't happy with the sage and oregano-infused drinks; maybe I didn't mingle them with the right fruit punches. But you can always experiment and see what you like. 
Spiking your drinks with a few herbs can also be a somewhat healthy habit. After all, herbal teas have been used for centuries. But modern-day researchers are finding antioxidants in herbs that may protect cells from damage that lead to cancer. 
Watermelon-Basil Cooler
"How that translates to health benefits for humans is yet to be seen, but we don't need to wait for all the research to include herbs in our foods and beverages," said Alice Bender, a registered dietitian with the American Institute for Cancer Research. "You've found a delicious and beautiful way to include foods with potential cancer-fighting substances."
Rosemary & White Grape Juice Chiller
Of course, she cautions, no one food can protect you from cancer or chronic disease. The flavors from a few sprigs probably won't save your life, but it can't hurt. And if it gets you to drink more liquids to stay hydrated, well, that's a good thing.
The AICR and other health organizations recommend avoiding sugary beverages because they contribute to overweight and obesity. Even 100 percent fruit juice should be limited to no more than a cup per day, but when you pour it over crushed ice, you dilute the sweetness.  If you want fizz, add club soda, which is sugar- and calorie-free. I added diet lemon-lime soda to some of my drinks, and it was really refreshing with no added calories.

Some tips that I found from my experiments:
-Aim for subtle flavor. Too much of an herb makes a drink bitter and astringent-tasting. Fortunately, ice-cold beverages tend to dull the flavors a little.
-If you really don't like the flavor of a certain herb in savory dishes such as soup or spaghetti sauce, you probably won't like it in a drink, either. Try a little in a one-cup serving before adding it to a whole pitcher full of lemonade.
-Most of the time, it's best to chop up an herb and let it steep in the liquid awhile to infuse the flavor. Then strain out the old, spent leaves it before serving. Then add a fresh sprig for garnish when serving.
- If you're using a fizzy drink, you'll want to serve it right away while the drink is still fizzy. You can finely chop the herbs so they're palatable, or just use a sprig of the herb as a stirrer or fragrant garnish. You'll still get a hint of the flavor.

Minted Apple Juice
1 can frozen apple juice concentrate
3 cans water
2-3 sprigs of mint leaves (about 1/4 cup), coarsely chopped
Club soda, if desired
Mix the apple juice in a large pitcher.  Add the mint leaves. Refrigerate 1-2 hours. Pour the juice through a strainer and discard the spent leaves.
Serve over crushed ice, garnished with a few more sprigs of mint.  Add club soda if you want some fizz.  Makes 4-6 servings.
— Valerie Phillips
Basil Lemonade or Limeade
1 package diet lemonade or limeade mix, such as Crystal Light, prepared according to package directions
1/4 cup loosely packed basil leaves, torn or coarsely chopped
Add the basil to the pitcher or lemonade. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours.  Pour the lemonade through a strainer to remove the spent leaves.
Serve over crushed ice, with basil sprigs for garnish, if desired.
Makes 4-6 servings.
— Valerie Phillips

Thyme Out Ginger Ale
This is for those who prefer more "edge" than sweetness.
1 12-ounce can diet ginger ale soda
1 small sprig thyme, finely chopped
Place the thyme in a glass with crushed ice. Pour the ginger ale over the ice and thyme. Serves 1.
—Valerie Phillips

Watermelon-Basil Cooler
6-7 cups seedless watermelon, in chunks (about 1/3 of a medium-size watermelon)
1-2 sprigs basil leaves (about 2 tablespoons)
Pinch of salt
Place the melon in a blender with the basil leaves. Puree until mixture is smooth. Refrigerate until well-chilled before serving, or serve over ice.
Makes about 2-3 servings.
— Valerie Phillips

Rosemary Lemonade or Limeade
1 can frozen lemonade or limeade concentrate (or 1 package diet lemonade mix), prepared according to package directions
3-4 sprigs rosemary, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
Mix the rosemary with the lemonade. Let steep in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours. Strain into a pitcher. Serve over crushed ice, garnished with rosemary sprigs. Makes 4-6 servings.
— Valerie Phillips

Rosemary Grape Chiller
1 can frozen white grape juice concentrate, prepared according to package directions
3-4 sprigs rosemary, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
Mix the grape juice and rosemary. Chill in the refrigerator 1-2 hours. Strain into a pitcher. Serve over crushed ice, garnished with rosemary sprigs. Makes 4-6 servings.

Berry Basil Spritzer
1-2 cups frozen or fresh berries, such as blueberries, raspberries or chopped strawberries
2 liter bottle club soda or diet lemon-lime soda, well-chilled
4-6 sprigs basil
Divide the berries evenly among 4 to 6 glasses, depending on how large your glasses are. Pour the soda over the berries. Add a sprig of basil to each drink as a garnish.
— Valerie Phillips

Lavender Lemonade
1 1/2 cup sugar
5 cups water, divided
12 lavender stems, or about 1/4 cup of dried lavender
2 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, strained
Ice cubes
Lavender sprigs and lemon slices for garnish
Place the sugar and 2 1/2 cups water in a medium saucepan, and stir to combine. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved.
Add the lavender, cover, and remove from heat. Let the mixture stand for at least 20 minutes and up to several hours.
Strain the mixture, discarding the lavender blossoms. Pour into a glass pitcher. Add the lemon juice and another 2 1/2 cups of water. Stir well. Taste and add more sugar, water or lemon as desired. Serve in pretty glasses over ice.
— Peggy Nelson, Purple Apple Fa

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Communal Serving Saturday Brunch

What are you doing with your Saturday morning? Before you answer, you should know that Communal (102 N University Ave. in Provo) is now serving Brunch Saturdays from 9 am to 2 pm. 
    Communal’s brunch reflects the restaurants commitment to fresh local ingredients. Eggs come from Clifford Family Farm, whether sunny-side up with their Summer Vegetable Hash, or as an integral component of the batter for German Pancakes with Greek Yogurt and White Peaches. Clifford Family Farm has been raising vegetables and all-natural eggs for a decade now and they are a regular fixture at the Downtown Salt Lake Farmer’s Market. 
    Communal also makes its bacon and pork sausage in-house with Berkshire hogs raised by Christiansen’s Family Farm in Vernon, Utah. 
    Communal also offers fruit juices from Winder farms. 
    As Communal’s chefs are always on the lookout for the best local ingredients, the brunch menu is subject to minor weekly changes as opportunity and inspiration dictate. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Haight Bench Ward Primary Water Party

Every year on the Saturday before Pioneer Day (July 24) the Haight Bench Ward has a water party for the Primary kids.  
Since our house is next to the park's big hill (and we have a convenient water spigot), some of the party takes place in our backyard. 

I brought Anthony and Jayden to come and enjoy the fun.  Here are some photos.

Here are some photos:

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Red Robin Restaurants Turns Up the Heat with Hottest Chile Peppers

Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, Inc.  spiced up its menu with the launch of the Fiery Ghost Style and the Cry Baby Style, expanding the Tavern Styles menu introduced in April. The chain claims that it's first national chain to use the ghost pepper (Bhut Jolokia), one of the world’s hottest chile peppers. 

These are not for the weak of tongue: 
·         Fiery Ghost Style teamsthe ghost pepper with both fresh-cut and fried jalapeños atop pepper jack cheese to round out this tour-de-fire.
·         Cry Baby Style combines crispy onion straws tossed in a  Sriracha dry seasoning with even more onions sautéed in Cholula Hot Sauce. The one-two punch of crispy and sautéed onions are complimented by pepper jack cheese and a ghost pepper ketchup.

Guests can choose one of the two new Tavern Styles or any of the three original styles – Pig Out, Cantina Jack and Buzzalo – for just $1 more to style up their favorite Tavern Burger available for $6.99 with Red Robin’s signature Bottomless Steak Fries, which means free refills.

The ghost pepper (Bhut Jolokia) is estimated to range between 855,000 -1,000,000+ Scoville heat units. For comparison, a typical jalapeño pepper falls between 3,500 - 8,000 Scoville heat units. 

For more information visitwww.redrobin.com.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Park City Kimball Arts Festival Offers Taste of Restaurants, Products

The 43rd Annual Park City Kimball Arts Festival (Aug. 3-5) is adding a new Utah Artisan Tasting, featuring local food purveyors who use fresh, organic and local ingredients.  In its 3rd year, Taste of Art is an integral part of the festival, where nearly 20 local restaurants offer festival specials and discounts.
 The Utah Artisan Tasting area will be located at the top of Main Street and will feature local small hand-craft food producers, who diligently source their raw materials and create high quality products.  Each will be offering samples to festival goers, as well as selling their products. 

Utah Artisan Tasting participants:
       Amour Spreads
       Instant Karma
       Millcreek Cacao Roasters
       Pop Art Gourmet Popcorn
       Red Bicycle Breadworks
      Snowy Mountain Sheep Creamery
Nearly 20 local restaurants located at or near the festival are offering specials and discounts to festival-goers as part of the Taste of Art program. Participating restaurants:

      The Back Door Deli
      Bangkok Thai on Main
      Buena Vita Restaurant
      Cena Ristorante
      Cisero’s Ristorante
      Deer Valley Grocery – Café
      EPC at the Hyatt Escala Lodge
      501 on Main
      Glitretind Restaurant at Stein Eriksen Lodge
      High West Distillery & Saloon
      Lespri’s Prime Steak & Sushi Bar
      Silver Star Café
      The three-day festival offers a multi-sensory artistic experience for its over 55,000 attendees. The festival includes visual-art exhibitions from over 200 established artists, live musical performances, beer/wine gardens, cuisine from Taste of Art participants and the Utah Artisan Tasting experience. The Arts Festival serves as the nonprofit Kimball Art Center’s primary annual fundraiser.
     The 43rd Park City Kimball Arts Festival is presented by KSL TV, KSL.com and KSL broadcast group with leading sponsor Strong Porsche and contributing sponsors Budweiser, CARMA Center, Coca-Cola, and Key Bank. Additional event support is received from All Seasons Resort Lodging, Canyons, The Chateaux at Sliver Lake, Deer Valley Resort, Fresh Market, Park City Mountain Resort, Park City Municipal Corporation, ResortQuest, Rocky Mountain Power, Stein Eriksen Lodge, Summit County Restaurant Tax, Sysco, Utah Office of Tourism and Washington School House Hotel.

 More information is available online at www.KimballArtCenter.org.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Marie Callender's Strawberry Fest

Marie Callender’s is celebrating summer with Strawberry Fest. Through August, Marie’s is offering five strawberry desserts prepared every day. Selections include:

·         Strawberry Pie
·         New York-Style Cheesecake with Fresh Strawberry Topping
·         Strawberry Shortcake Sundae
·         Strawberry Banana Cream Pie
·         Double Cream Strawberry Pie

Prices and locations for Strawberry Fest may vary so  check your local restaurant to see if they're participating.  

Market Street Oyster Bar Offering $5 Appetizers and More

Happy Hour at Market Street Oyster Bar features five of the most-popular appetizers for $5 each. Every day, from 4 to 6PM, and after 8:30 PM, “5 for $5” gives guests a choice of:

Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail
Hot Spinach, Crab and Artichoke Dip
Crab Stuffed Mushrooms
Fried Calamari
Hickory Smoked Salmon

Also, on Mondays fresh oysters are half priced all day. The tastiest, freshest oysters are served on a bed of ice, raw on the half shell, accompanied by your choice of cocktail sauce, horseradish, mignonette sauce and lemon.

Now through the 24th of July, Market Street Fresh Fish Markets feature grill-ready shrimp or beef skewers for $4.99 each. It makes for an easy grilliing picnic, with slices of onion, red and green pepper.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Celebrating National Food Months.... Not!

My post about National Lasagna Day (July 31) got me thinking about a Deseret News column I wrote a few years ago on food "holidays" and observances. Just so you know, the July is National Baked Bean Month, Blueberry Month, Hot Dog Month, Ice Cream Month, Picnic Month, Lasagna Awareness Month, Culinary Arts Month, and Pickles Month.

With so many designated observances, I don't get too excited about writing a special story just because it's a certain day, week, month or even year.  For instance, the United Nations declared 2008 the International Year of the Potato, and 2004 the Year of Rice. 
Aside from the United Nations, I'm not sure who assigns all these food observances. I suppose any person or group can designate one. I'm pretty sure most of them are part of promotional campaigns by food growers or manufacturers.

Over the years I compiled a calendar of national food designations. Just in case you don't want to miss Papaya Month in September or Split Pea Soup week in November, here's my list: 
January: Oatmeal Month, Soup Month, Pie Day (Jan. 23), Healthy Weight Week (Jan. 20-26), Fat Free Living Month, Bread Machine Baking Month, Dried Plum Breakfast Month, Hot Tea Month, Wheat Bread Month.
February: Bake for Family Fun Month, Canned Food Month, Celebration of Chocolate Month, Snack Food Month, Potato Lover's Month, Great American Pie Month, Cherry Month, Grapefruit Month, Hot Breakfast Month, Pot Roast Month, Return Shopping Carts to the Supermarket Month.
March: Nutrition Month, Peanut Month, Agriculture Day (March 21), Noodle Month, Frozen Food Month, Flour Month, Sauce Month.
April: Garden Month, Pecan Month, Fresh Florida Tomato Month, Soft Pretzel Month, Soybean Month.
May: Asparagus Month, Artisan Gelato Month, Barbecue Month, Hamburger Month, Salad Month, Egg Month, Herb Month, Salsa Month, Strawberry Month, Food Allergy Awareness Month.
June: Candy Month, Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Month, Hunger Awareness Month, Iced Tea Month, Papaya Month, Beef Steak Month, Seafood Month, Soul Food Month, Turkey Lovers Month.
July: Baked Bean Month, Blueberry Month, Hot Dog Month, Ice Cream Month, Picnic Month, Lasagna Awareness Month, Culinary Arts Month, Pickles Month.
August: Catfish Month, Peach Month.
September: 5-A-Day Month, Chicken Month, Honey Month, Mushroom Month, Rice Month, Biscuit Month, Organic Harvest Month, Papaya Month.
October: Apple Month, Pasta Month, Pizza Month, Popcorn Month, Pork Month, Seafood Month, World Vegetarian Day (Oct. 1), Celebrate Sun-Dried Tomatoes Month, Caramel Month, Cookie Month, Spinach-Lovers' Month, Vegetarian Awareness Month.
November: Peanut Butter Lover's Month, Split Pea Soup Week (second week), Diabetes Month, Culinary Week, Men Make Dinner Day (first Thursday), Peanut Festival, Pomegranate Month, Roasting Month.
December: Cookie Cutter Week (first week).

BRIO Offering Half-Price Lasagna July 31

 I think there are entirely too many obscure "food" holidays. Most are promotional campaigns.  Do we really need to celebrate canned food month or National Split Pea Soup Day? Or a National Return Shopping Carts to the Supermarket Month?

But I'm OK with it when restaurants offer a few specials. July 31 is National Lasagna Day and BRIO Tuscan Grille at Fashion Place Mall in Murray will offer its Lasagna Bolognese Al Forno for half price during lunch and dinner.  The oven-baked dish is layered with authentic Bolognese meat sauce, savory Alfredo, and ricotta and mozzarella cheeses.

Reservations are strongly suggested, and you can make them at (801) 262-6500. To Go, Online Ordering, Kid’s Menu, Catering and Banquet items are excluded from the offer.

Friday, July 13, 2012

ZY's Award-Winning Chef Offering Cooking Class

  Join Chef Matt Lake at ZY Food Wine & Cheese for an intimate cooking class on Saturday, July 28, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at the restaurant, 268 S. State Street in Salt Lake City.  In honor of ZY Restaurant’s one year anniversary, Lake will demonstrate how to prepare two of the restaurants signature dishes, his Scallops with almond, curry and red wine reduction and Tender Pecan Pork with wild mushrooms and sautéed greens.

   Attendees will join chef in the ZY kitchen as he answers cooking questions, shares culinary tips and special techniques used to create many of the dishes guests have come to love over the year. Following class, attendees will enjoy a creative cheese plate and sample the demonstrated dishes; complementary wine pairings will also be available. Each attendee will go home with recipes for each dish prepared.

Lake is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America. During his career, chef Lake has been named a Food & Wine magazine “Best New Chef,” and a “Rising Star” by Restaurants & Institutions.

A limited number of spots are available. Price  is $20 per person, with wine pairings an additional  $10.  To book, call 801-779-4730. Check out more information on the restaurant at 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

BRIO Tuscan Grill Offering Free Kids Meal, Live Music

BRIO Tuscan Grille at Fashion Place Mall lets kids under 12 eat free on Tuesdays, 4 p.m. to close. The deal is one complimentary kids meal with the purchase of an adult entrée. The special gives kids options of creating their own pizza, or a choice of pasta, salmon, chicken, or a cheeseburger.

I visited BRIO last fall soon after it opened. It's Italian-themed, but a step up from Olive Garden in its offerings and prices. 

I've heard from people that BRIO's bar appetizers are a great deal at $3.95.  There are 10 different Tuscan Tasters such as Crispy Shrimp Picante, Beef Carpaccio and Margherita Flatbread, available Monday through Friday, 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. to close. 

A popular jazz group, The Daniel Day Trio, is playing music every Wednesday summer night from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., to entertain diners on its terrace off the bar. Wonderful way to start a beautiful summer evening in covered dining with Tuscan Tasters, succulent salads or entrée’s with wood-grilled and oven-roasted steaks, chops, seafood and pastas.

Visit brioitalian.com for Brio Tuscan Grille’s menus and online ordering.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Marcus Samuelsson's Autobiography, "Yes, Chef"

Because of food TV shows, chef Marcus Samuelsson has become familiar to a lot of people who have never tasted his food.  He won Bravo's “Top ChefMasters Season 2,” has competed on the Food Network's "The Next Iron Chef" and been a judge on "Chopped" and "Top Chef." He also oversaw President Obama's first state dinner in the White House and has a thriving Harlem restaurant, Red Rooster.
His autobiography, "Yes, Chef," (Random House) is a compelling read, even for those who have never seen him on TV, eaten at his restaurants or paid attention his many accolades (which include being named one of People magazine's Most Eligible Bachelors before his marriage). 
 I wrote about the book in today's Deseret News (and no, I have no clue as to why an unrelated picture of cherry cookies appears along with the story on the DN website!)  
I feel a little sense of pride that I was able to interview Samuelsson in 2001, when his star was just beginning to rise. He came to Utah to cook for a pre-Olympics party through the James Beard Foundation, and I was invited to come up to Park City and do an interview. But when I got up there, the publicist was nowhere to be found and security was tight. Luckily, local chef David Jones of Log Haven was also cooking, and he let me in the back door of the kitchen. (See Dave, your favor was not forgotten.) 
"How often does an Ethiopian kid from Sweden get to cook for an Olympics?" Samuelsson told me, explaining that he was orphaned as a child, then adopted by a Swedish couple.
That piqued my interest, and I'm glad he's chosen to share his story of  "chasing flavors," as he calls it, in "Yes, Chef."  Some interesting tidbits:
- His original name was Kassahun Tsegie. He was three years old when he, his mother and his sister — all sick with tuberculosis — walked 75 miles to an Ethiopian hospital to get help. His mother died soon after, and the two children were adopted by a Swedish family, the Samuelssons, who named him Marcus.
- Growing up in Goteborg, Sweden, he often helped his grandmother prepare dishes such as roast chicken (she killed the chickens herself!) and pan-fried herring. This sparked a passion for cooking that burned brighter once he was cut from his soccer team and realized he wouldn't become a professional athlete.
-  His ambition and work ethic took him to top restaurants in Switzerland, Austria and France, where French culinary technique reigned supreme and where lower-ranked staff gave military-like respect to their superiors. "Yes, chef," was what Samuelsson learned to answer, "whether he or she asks for a side of beef or your head on a platter."
- He became acquainted with flavors from all over the world while working on cruise ships. His descriptions of aromas and flavors are so compelling that you can almost taste and smell the food.
- While working at a hotel Austria, he had a one-night affair with a hotel chambermaid, who became pregnant. Although Samuelsson provided financial support, he didn't meet his daughter until she was a teen-ager and he was a successful chef in New York. He poignantly expresses his feelings about his fears of fatherhood, gratitude for the woman who lovingly raised his child on her own, and remorse when his daughter questioned his lack of involvement in her life.  
- Samuelsson experienced his own mixed emotions when he discovered that his own birth father was still alive, and traveled to Ethiopia to meet him and his half-siblings.
- He's known spectacular career highs and lows. While chef at the Swedish-American restaurant Aquavit, he was the youngest chef to earn a three-star review from the New York Times.  But his pan-African restaurant, Merekato 55, bombed in what Samuelsson calls the biggest failure of his professional life.
"It's a good thing I don't drink much or do drugs; this would have been a perfect time for that to spin out of control," he observed. "I've never felt so low, or so humiliated."
- He was called a racial slur by Gordon Ramsay, the foul-mouthed host of "Hell's Kitchen" and "Kitchen Nightmares." He was irked that when Samuelsson visited London, he didn't mention Ramsay's name when he was asked about some of top British chefs. 
-  When he left Aquavit, he was in the bizarre situation of having to "buy back" his own name. The owner of Aquavit, Hakan Swahn, claimed that the only reason the name Marcus Samuelsson had any value was due to Aquavit, with its aggressive marketing and publicity. If he left Aquavit, or did any work outside of the partnership, he had to pay Swahn a percentage of his earnings. Samuelsson consulted attorneys who advised him to pay a financial settlement, and soon. Because they more well-known he became, the more expensive his name would be.
He thought of going back to his Ethiopian birth name, Kasahun Tsegie. "In the end I emptied my bank account to Hakan and I bought the rights back to 'Marcus Samuelsson' because it's the name that people know and it's a name people remember. And because it's part of my story."
It's definitely a story worth telling!