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Cooking as Fast as I Can: A Chef's Story of Family, Food, and Forgiveness Hardcover – September 15, 2015

3.8 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“In Cooking as Fast as I Can, Cat Cora courageously shares how her passion for cooking helped her to triumphantly break through barriers her life. It is a must-read for those in search of true happiness.” (Deepak Chopra, author of "The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success")

“Cat's story is not only a riveting tale of adoption and anamazing read about a chef coming into her own. It's also delicious, sticky, andsweet—the kind of story that makes you want to go back for seconds.” (Marcus Samuelsson, author of the "New York Times" bestseller "Yes, Chef")

Cooking as Fast as I Can is honest, ballsy,relatable, and inspiring. And it’s a fun read. I’d expect nothingless from Cat.” (Gabrielle Reece, "New York Times" bestselling author of "My Foot is Too Big for the Glass Slipper" and "Big Girl in the Middle")

"Cat Cora's intimate memoir chronicles the surprising story of how she became one of the most accomplished and recognizable female chefs in the world. Her story teems with valuable life lessons and more than a few wild adventures, both in and out of the kitchen. A testament to Cora’s unwavering positivity, work ethic, and inner strength, Cooking as Fast as I Can is juicy, raw, and satisfying to the very last bite.” (Gail Simmons, food expert, TV host and author of "Talking With My Mouth Full")

Cooking as Fast as I Can shows us the grit and perseverance it takes to succeed, not only in the food industry but in all aspects of life. No one achieves success without overcoming heartbreaking obstacles, and we get to learn how Cat Cora overcame all of hers with tenacity and optimism, in her compelling,page-turning, mouthwatering memoir.” (Regina Calcaterra, "New York Times" bestselling author of "Etched in Sand")

"Cooking as Fast as I Can is an inspiration—a wake-up call to those who believe that the professional kitchen is a man's domain. Cooking, like life, is not about sex, stature, age or orientation. It's about working hard, which Cat Cora has done since the beginning." (Michael Gibney, author of "Sous Chef: 24 Hours on the Line")

"From the family kitchens of her Southern childhood to the world-renowned restaurants where she cut her teeth, Cat Cora shows us how, through chutzpah and drive, she became one of the most recognizable chefs in the country. Cooking as Fast as I Can is a fascinating and frank memoir about the grit it takes to succeed in the culinary world." (Michael Ruhlman, author of "The Soul of a Chef," "Charcuterie," and "Ruhlman’s Twenty")

Cooking as Fast as I Can is authentic and inspiring and written with a sometimes heart-wrenching transparency. It’s filled with important truths about the gift of cooking and the blessing of courage and the strength required to forgive.” (Kyra Phillips, author, anchor & correspondent, CNN, Documentary and Investigative Units)

"Witty and faced paced... Cora has led an exceptional life, but it is her absorbing voice and eye for sensory detail and description that make this memoir succeed... Whether cooking at the White House or getting a DUI, Cora spares no detail, no matter how unflattering, and she reveals herself as endearingly fallible and human." (Publishers Weekly)

"Sure to please fans of chef memoirs such as Gabrielle Hamilton's Blood, Bones and Butter." (Library Journal)

"A disarmingly candid look at the highs, lows, and true grit of a culinary star." (Kirkus Reviews)

“This window into Cora’s pre-Iron Chef life lets the reader follow her from Mississippi to New York to France and finally to California as she pursues her dream of becoming a head chef. Never shying from the ultrapersonal—she suffered childhood abuse and speaks openly about the difficulties of embracing her sexuality and raising four children—Cora presents her vulnerabilities in a way that humanizes her, despite the armor she’s built to survive her cutthroat career.” (ELLE, 2015 Readers' Prize Selection)

“Affecting….as warm and comforting as a home-cooked meal.” (People)

About the Author

Cat Cora grew up in Jackson, Mississippi, and attended the Culinary Institute of America and worked in New York City before travelling overseas to apprentice in Europe with world-renowned French chefs Georges Blanc and Roger Vergé. She settled in Napa Valley in her first job as a chef. After The Food Network discovered her in 1999, she went on to become the first female Iron Chef for the Network. She is the founder of the charitable organization Chefs for Humanity, a grassroots organization that mobilizes chefs to lend their skills to communities in need, and she has built a brand that includes two food lines, cookware a shoe line, cookbooks and restaurants, in Orlando, Costa Mesa, Houston, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, Atlanta, and Singapore. She lives in Santa Barbara.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner (September 15, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1476766142
  • ISBN-13: 978-1476766140
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #554,710 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I had never heard of Cat Cora before. I can't cook and I have never seen one episode of Iron Chef. I was out w/ some friends drinking. We were messing around w/ IG and somebody was following her on their IG and pulled it up. I was like who is that? They said she was the female iron chef and she was lesbian. I was kind of surprised because she didn’t look like the stereotypical lesbian. My friend said they just read her book and truthfully, I was interested in reading it because hot damn, she was good looking. I can say that as a true bisexual female that doesn’t look like a stereotypical lesbian lol.

Being a stay at home mom, I love reading new books. So I ordered her book and out of curiosity, I looked her up to see some of her stuff. A lot talked about her being Greek American and she had a thick, Southern accent, which I think made her even hotter. She came off as alpha and she had a certain swag that was hers. People don’t understand that you can be a good chef, but to be a TV CHEF, you have to have your own swag going. One of the interviews I saw she said something about how she always takes the time to take pics and signs autographs for people. I found that to be nice. To take the a few minutes to validate somebody’s feelings who buys your stuff and watched you from your early days, can make their day and cost nothing to you. Living in Calabasas, I run into famous people and pro athletes. My kid plays with some of their kids and some of them are ______.

Finally the book came and I killed the book in one day. Now was it the best memoir I have ever read? No, but there were a lot of good things. She openly admits her issues with alcohol and admits even though she has been to meetings, she still drinks. Even if it isn't the right choice, it is her choice.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I would like to thank Scribner and NetGalley for providing me with an electronic copy to review. Cooking as Fast as I Can is a memoir by Cat Cora, from her childhood in Jackson, Mississippi to her current status as a successful chef and television personality. I wanted to know more about her challenges as a female chef in a male dominated career, as she only briefly touched upon the subject. Cat spent a lot of time detailing her relationships and discovering her sexuality, as this part of her life had a major impact on her calling as a chef. As her career is what interests me, since I am a fan of her Food Network shows, I was disappointed to find the information on this subject was mostly redundant for me. Cat's story is compelling, however, and shows that you can persevere in the face of incredible obstacles. Cooking as Fast as I Can will definitely appeal to readers, especially those who have watched Cat Cora on cooking shows or those who enjoy reading biographies.
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Format: Kindle Edition
First I should say that I came into this as a non-Cora fan. I certainly bore her no ill will, I just did not find her a compelling culinary personality either in television or in print. But I was interested to see someone who managed to put her personal life out on the counter as it were without ever seeming to make it a cause or something I was supposed to find noble or defining in terms of her public persona.

And it was that fact about her personal life that had me interested in her story.

Here Cora is candid and a bit brusque. Much like her persona I've seen as she cooks on television. Something I can find almost a bit off putting. She seems brash and a bit driven in terms of competing (as are most male chefs and male culinary personalities). But this works here in the written medium. She manages to balance sentiment with some rather pragmatic choices she made and in some cases I felt was forced to make.

I do wish that there was as much focus on her professional climb as matters that were personal and rooted in her emotional growth.

Overall I found her ability to convey some rather intimate moments in her life with a tone that was wry and nicely self-deprecating when needed. I'm not sure this is the culinary biography many might want, but it is a nice strong look at someone's life so far who happens to cook professionally as well as exemplifies a segment of society that, while finding a more accepting place in such, still has had to walk a finer line than most in getting there.
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Format: Hardcover
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 by then her writing became more inaccessible and felt stilted with platitudes and triteness. I mostly wound up thinking "No yet, it wasn't time to write your story yet. Too early." If there is a sequel I will be sure to pick it up and see where she is at and hope for a more open and accessible end.

Thank you to Edelweiss for allowing me to review this book for an honest opinion.
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