Cooking as Fast as I Can: A Chef's Story of Family, Food, and Forgiveness
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“Affecting….as warm and comforting as a home-cooked meal” (People), a no-holds-barred memoir on Southern life, Greek heritage, same sex marriage—and the meals that have shaped her memories—from the Food Network star and first female winner of Iron Chef, Cat Cora.
Before she became a renowned chef and Food Network star, Cat Cora was just a girl from Jackson, Mississippi, where days were slow and every meal was made from scratch. By the age of fifteen, Cora was writing the business plan for her first restaurant. Her love of cooking started in her Greek home, where fresh feta and home-cured olives graced the table. Cat spent her days internalizing the dishes that would form the cornerstone of her cooking philosophy—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 the experiences that shaped her life—from early childhood sexual abuse to the realities of life as lesbian in the deep South. She chronicles 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 with Rocco Di Spirito on the Food Network’s Melting Pot, Cat broke barriers by becoming the first-ever female contestant on Iron Chef.
By turns epic and intimate, Cat 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 “a disarmingly candid look at the highs, lows, and true grit of a culinary star” (Kirkus Reviews).
interested in getting acquainted. My enduring memory of this time is how out of place I felt, how lame and clueless. I could sit in my dorm room all by myself and make myself blush to the tips of my hair remembering how proud I’d felt winning the Taste of Elegance with my stuffed pork loins. In class, it was obvious to everyone that I was inexperienced and unprepared. I was terrified at the thought of how much I didn’t know. I could make a few tasty dishes in my mother’s kitchen, but otherwise I
and sheer crazy to make it as a chef. I cut myself every day for months on end. Sliced off the tips of my fingers and nicked my knuckles. Once I caught the blade edge of a falling knife with my open hand. I also learned the most important skill of all: how to keep my jacket clean. I learned not to wipe my hands on my front; not to put down a pan so hard that it splashes; not to drag my sleeve through a hotel pan of marinara sauce; not to squirt myself with demi-glace, purée, or vinaigrette; not
she was hesitant, but still open. When I told her I had a wife, she said absolutely not. I was hurt and mystified; a single gay woman could adopt, but not a married couple? It still breaks my heart to think that one of those kids could have been ours. We started to explore in vitro, which would require a donor. Before we even settled on the right sperm donor bank we were stricken by the responsibility of being placed in the position of deciding on the other half of our future children’s DNA. The
fast and furious I put that demonstration meal together, sweat flying off my forehead, my hands a blur. Afterward I took the customary pictures with a huge grin on my face, zipped through some autograph signing, and was ushered into a waiting car that sped to the airport, where I caught the first flight back. It was worth every penny. Jennifer’s ability to pop out our kids like a human Pez dispenser didn’t rub off on me. My contractions started while I was on a conference call on a Friday. We
“I’m not getting out! Hand me the damn keys.” She handed me the keys, unbuckled her seat belt, threw open the door, leapt out, and started walking. So there I was. Left with the car, the driver’s door hanging open. Left with my phone back in the bushes up in the San Marcos Pass. I was so furious I could feel my heartbeat in my head. My phone! With my life inside it, all my work contacts, important emails, my calendar. I had to get my phone. That’s what I had to do. I scooted over into the