At a media luncheon at C-House Chef Marcus Samuelsson sat down with my guest and me. I had been given a gift bag with his new cookbook, New American Table, and I joked "your face is in that bag."

"Four years of my life are in that bag!" he responded.

It's a beautiful, comprehensive, and well-thought out compendium of those years. Every recipe in the 356 page volume has a story or a description and it's filled with gorgeous pictures that depict the multi-national chef's influences. The recipes themselves span the breadth and depth of "American" cuisine, which is now a compilation of cultures instead of one generic homogeneous fare. In short, it's a cookbook, a coffee table book, a reference book, and an autobiography.

On Monday, January 18, Chef Samuelsson, Executive Chef Nicole Pederson, and Pastry Chef Toni Roberts will host a dinner showcasing courses inspired by the book. Following a cocktail reception with passed appetizers, the four course dinner will be paired with beers from Chicago's own Goose Island brewery, and there will also be a brew master on hand to answer any questions. This will also be a perfect opportunity to get the book, since it's only $20 additional. I bet Chef Samuelsson will even sign it for you.

It is, after all, four years of his life.