Cooking as Fast as I Can: A Chef's Story of Family, Food, and Forgiveness by Cat Cora
Rating: 4 Stars
Description: Remarkable candid, compulsively readable, renowned chef Cat Cora's no holds-barred memoir of Southern life, Greek heritage, same sex marriage and meals that have shaped her memories.
Before she became a celebrated chef, Cathy Cora was just a girl from Jackson, Mississippi, where days were slow and every meal was made from scratch. Her passion for the kitchen started in her home, where she spent her days internalizing the dishes that would form the cornerstone of her cooking philosophy incorporating her Greek heritage and Southern upbringing - from crispy fried chicken and honey drenched biscuits to spanakopita. But outside the kitchen, Cat's life was volatile.
In Cooking as Fast as I can, Cat Cora reveals, for the first time, coming of age experiences from early childhood sexual abuse to the realities of life as a lesbian in the deep South. She shares how she found her passion in the kitchen and went on to attend the prestigious Culinary Institute of America and apprentice under Michelin star chefs in France. After her big break as a co-host on the Food Network's Melting Pot, Cat broke barriers by becoming the first ever female Iron Chef.
Cooking as Fast as I Can chronicles the difficulties and triumphs Cora experineced on the path to becoming a chef. She writes movingly about how she found courage and redemption in the dark truths of her past and about how she found solace in the kitchen and work, how her passion for cooking helped her overcome hardships and ultimately find happiness at home and became a wife and a mother to four boys. Above all, this is an utterly engrossing story about the grit and grace it takes to achieve your dreams. (from Goodreads)
Why I Picked This Book: I've seen Cat Cora as an Iron Chef and other Food Network shows for years but knew very little about her and this seemed like a great way to fix that!
My Impression: Going in I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I'd seen Cat Cora around on different shows for years but didn't really feel like I "knew" her. She came across as friendly, hardworking, incredibly competent, but somewhat reserved. In this book she does not pull her punches and tells her story in an impressively matter of fact way. She takes us through her happy childhood, the pain and betrayal of her childhood sexual abuse, coming to terms with her sexuality as a teenager, and through her life as an adult as she began to build a career and finally her brand. Through it all she doesn't come off as angry, looking to blame, or even asking for pity or sympathy but at the same time she doesn't sugar coat anything that happened and is perfectly willing to admit her own responsibility when things go bad.
What I found the most fascinating was when her career began to intertwine with the Celebrity Chef movement and Food Network taking off. I had always wondered how you go from cooking in the back of a restaurant to becoming a household name and how you develop a "brand". It seems so effortless from the outside so I thoroughly enjoyed an inside look. I also really loved the little glimpses she gives of behind the scenes at Iron Chef America. The book ends open ended (with full disclosure on her DUI) but in this format it didn't bother me. I hope for the best for Cat and Jennifer and can't wait to see what she comes out with next.
Even if you aren't a Food Network follower I think this would be still be a fantastic read and if, like me, you read cookbooks for fun there's an extra dash of enjoyment.
Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Oh definitely! As it is, I'm looking forward to trying out her cookbooks and keeping a closer eye out for her television appearances.
Would I Recommend this Book?: Definitely! This is a great read - especially for food lovers.
I'm linking up with Weekend Cooking hosted by Beth Fish Reads