Burn the Place: A Memoir – In this memoir, long-listed for the National Book Award, the author tells the story of her ascent from her Midwestern childhood to creating her Michelin-starred restaurant, Elizabeth. It is raw and heartfelt and difficult to stop reading. Her journey is marked by addiction and the travails of a gay woman making her way in a man’s world. She is honest about her own behavior, from throwing pans against the wall to drunk-driving car accidents. But everything about her account speaks of the passion that drove her to culinary excellence, to her lauded restaurant and her first menu, which included, for dessert, Kuamoto oyster ice cream and mignonette gel.
Hungry: Eating, Road-Tripping, and Risking it All with the Greatest Chef in the World – Jeff Gordinier is a journalist who happened to meet the Danish chef Rene Redzepi, whose restaurant Noma has often been called the best restaurant in the world. Together, they ended up spending four years traveling the world looking for new foods and new flavors for Redzepi to incorporate into his cooking. They explore local cuisines, seek out unusual ingredients, and meet other world-renowned chefs. The book is part travelogue, part food journal, and part profile of one of the world’s most intriguing chefs.
Savage Feast: Three Generations, Two Continents, and a Dinner Table (A Memoir with Recipes) – There seems to be something about food which evokes passion. This is another story of a life, of several generations, in fact, that intertwine food and immigration, relationships, identity, and family. The author, who was born in Minsk, Belarus and immigrated to the US in 1988, is an award-winning novelist, and the writing is compelling and moves quickly. As promised, there are recipes, from Cabbage Vareniki (Dumplings) with Wild Mushroom Gravy, to Roasted Peppers Marinated in Buckwheat Honey and Garlic.
– Jared J.