16 January 2016

Weekend Cooking: Cooking As Fast As I Can by Cat Cora

Weekend Cooking hosted by www.BethFishReads.comWeekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page.

Review: Cooking As Fast As I Can by Cat CoraIf you watch the Food Network, then you've probably heard of Cat Cora. You likely know she was the first female Iron Chef, and you might even know she's gay. But if you're anything like me, you probably don't know more more than that.

Enter Cat Cora's memoir Cooking As Fast As I Can. In this frank and well-written account, Cora reveals both the good and the bad of her childhood, the story of her culinary journey, and many details of her personal life.

Rather than summarize the memoir, I'll list a few highlights and then provide some general thoughts on the book and the audiobook.

Things that stuck with me
  • From a young age Cora had to find to way to deal with a variety of tough issues, such as sexual abuse (from a cousin), being adopted from birth, and growing up gay in Jackson, Mississippi.
  • Cora is humble about her achievements and quick to point out her mistakes and weaknesses.
  • It's really tough to be a world-famous chef, and I'm surprised any relationship survives the whirlwind of television production schedules, restaurant responsibilities, endorsements, and lecture circuits.
  • I loved the story of how Cora met Julia Child when the older woman was on a book tour.
I was fascinated with Cora's memoir and found a lot to admire about her professional ambition and her struggle to find love and create a stable family of her own. Yet the chef's life has not been completely blessed: For example, she struggles with alcohol and is not always present for her wife and children.

If you're hoping for an inside look into the Food Network, you'll find a few tidbits. If you want to learn how to open a restaurant or become a household name, you'll need to look elsewhere. Cat Cora's Cooking As Fast As I Can is an intimate story in which she talks about her great good luck, her hard work, her dreams, and her difficulties. I recommend this book for foodies, for people interested in LGBTQ issues, and for anyone looking for a good memoir.

Note on the audiobook: I listened to the audiobook edition of Cat Cora's Cooking As Fast As I Can (Tantor Audio; 7 hr, 55 min) read by Cassandra Campbell. My full positive review will be published by AudioFile magazine, but let me say here that Campbell's accent, pacing, and emotional range fit the memoir perfectly. If you're so inclined, do not hesitate to pick up the audio.

Published by Scribner, 2015
ISBN-13: 9781476766140
Source: Review: print & audio (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)


rhapsodyinbooks 1/16/16, 7:12 AM  

I *still* have not listened to any audio by Cassandra Campbell! Can I believe it? But I tend to prefer audio books about history, so that may be why. Nevertheless, I'm going to have to break down and listen to fiction by her, just so I can hear what all the praise is always about!

(Diane) bookchickdi 1/16/16, 8:04 AM  

This sounds like a fascinating book. I imagine the celebrity chef's life is a hectic one indeed.

rhonda 1/16/16, 9:23 AM  

IHaving watched Cat Cora on tv I was really curious about her background.I found this a real honest raw at times memoir made me really admire her.

bermudaonion 1/16/16, 10:06 AM  

Julie and I actually saw her doing a demonstration outside GMA one morning and Julie had to explain to me who she was. I love memoirs, though, so I'd be up for this.

Katherine P 1/16/16, 10:28 AM  

I really enjoyed this one as well! She's just so amazingly honest. I've listened to a few books Cassandra Campbell has narrated and she's definitely one of my favorites. I can imagine that this was a great combination!

grammajudyb 1/16/16, 10:34 AM  

I have always liked Cat Cora but did not know a lot about her. This would be a fun one to read or listen to. I really need to get more familiar with audio versions that are not CD's played on a boombox.(my only expertise thus far)

Claudia 1/16/16, 11:16 AM  

I just love the cover photo on that book, and it sounds like a memoir I'd enjoy.

Esme 1/16/16, 11:26 AM  

I love a good memoir.

Margot 1/16/16, 11:57 AM  

I'm a Food Network fan and greatly admire Cat Cora. I don't know anything about her beyond her cooking stints on TV, so I'd really enjoy listening to her memoir.

Suko 1/16/16, 2:58 PM  

This sounds like an interesting and honest memoir, Beth. I am not familiar with Cat Cora (I don't watch a lot of TV, even though I love food shows) but now I want to learn more about this chef, and how she balances work and family.

Create With Joy 1/17/16, 7:05 AM  

Great review Beth - sounds like an interesting memoir!
Would love for you to join us at The Book Nook at Create With Joy -
we are now open all month! :-)

Laurie C 1/17/16, 12:12 PM  

We don't get the Food Network, so I'd never heard of the author but I do love Cassandra Campbell as an audiobook narrator, and this sounds right up my alley. I really liked the chef memoir, Blood, Bones, and Butter, by Gabrielle Hamilton on audio.
P.S. I wish I could have gotten a Weekend Cooking post together for this weekend, but I didn't! Hoping to start early and get one scheduled for next weekend...

Vicki 1/17/16, 5:58 PM  

I've seen Cat Cora on tv and think this book would be interesting.

Debbie 1/17/16, 6:02 PM  

Although Cat Cora is not my favorite, now I'm intrigued.

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