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Cooking as Fast as I Can: A Chef's…

Cooking as Fast as I Can: A Chef's Story of Family, Food, and…

by Cat Cora

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There is so much about Cat Cora's memoir that grabbed me. It's sass, its vivid descriptions of her southern childhood and her determination to make it in the hard-driving world of celebrity cooks. You can see her boldness, her grit early on and when she decides to become a chef she brings it right with her. She lived hard and fast and she liked it that way (and it was fun to read) and yet, it got tricky. Alcohol got in her way (and maybe, still does) as does the impact of being sexually abused by a family friend. She deals with it, keeps going, deals some more with it and keeps on going. It is all so admirable especially how she talked to her family about the abuse. I was with her for about 2/3 of the book but then I started to become irked by some of her bravado and the book started to feel more gamy and a bit like an advertisement. Ms Cora did not seem as open as before. My sense was that by the conclusion of the book that things were pretty tough, at home, with drinking perhaps. That is fine and understandable and reading about the hard stuff is what I gravitate to but she seemed inaccessible and her writing felt stilted with platitudes and triteness. I mostly wound up thinking "No yet, too early. It wasn't time to write your story yet." If there is a sequel I will be sure to pick it up and see where she is at and I will hope that it can be as strong and open as the beginning of this book.

Thank you to LibrayThing for allowing me to review this book for an honest opinion. ( )
  Karen59 | Jan 22, 2016 |
Iron Chef, mother, wife, and friend – while Cat Cora may be all of these, she has spent most of her life defying labels. Her gritty and candid memoir hops from Mississippi to California to France, all the while unearthing the things—and food—closest to her heart.

Cora is a true Southern girl, complete with a slight twang and penchant for no-nonsense axioms. After a horrifying incident when she was six years old, Cora grapples with feelings of betrayal, loneliness, and shame until she realizes “that I’m the only one responsible for taking care of myself.” Her mental armor prepares her to undertake several restaurant internships in France, and then to become executive chef at Postino. After gathering tremendous momentum in the culinary world, Cora then becomes the first female Iron Chef.

It would be remiss not to discuss another important facet of Cora’s life—her relationships. Cora, out and proud, had many volatile affairs before settling down with Jennifer and having four children. Cora’s unflinching narrative and honesty only serve to endear us more to her, her family, and her cooking.

If you’ve ever watched the Food Network just to gaze at the glistening racks of lamb or steaming mussels, then this book is for you. Cora’s fearless glimpse into the cryptic world of the kitchens is enthralling without being overly lofty. She strikes a fine balance between grit and glamour that creates a breathless, can’t-put-it-down narrative. ( )
  amandacb | May 10, 2015 |
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"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 experienced 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 to 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" --… (more)

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