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Fire in My Belly: Real Cooking Hardcover – October 16, 2012

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 356 pages
  • Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing (October 16, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1449411436
  • ISBN-13: 978-1449411435
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 1.3 x 10.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #32,738 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Chef Kevin Gillespie’s true passion lies in serving his customers quality food every day. This enthusiasm means incorporating the use of fresh, organic, and sustainable ingredients in all of his dishes. His goals as executive chef of Woodfire Grill are to increase the usage of local products and make seasonal dishes more exciting. An Atlanta, Georgia, native, Gillespie began his culinary education at The Art Institute of Atlanta. After graduating with honors, he went on to hold different positions at several well-known Atlanta restaurants, including chef de partie at Atlanta Grill at The Ritz-Carlton, sous chef at TWO Urban Licks, and chef de cuisine at Woodfire Grill. In August of 2006, Gillespie headed to the West Coast, where he went to work as executive sous chef at Fife in Portland, Oregon. He came back to Woodfire Grill after a year and a half to continue to work for his friend and teacher Michael Tuohy. In the summer of 2008, Nicolas Quiñones and Bernard Moussa of Five Senses Restaurants, LLC purchased Woodfire Grill and made Gillespie the new executive chef. In early 2009, Gillespie joined Quiñones and Moussa as a partner in the restaurant. In addition to achieving this partnership at the restaurant, Gillespie also earned a spot on Bravo’s Emmy- and James Beard award-winning series Top Chef for the show’s sixth season in Las Vegas, in 2009. Proving to be a top contender by winning the most Quickfire Challenges and Elimination Challenges in the history of the show, he stood out as one of the season’s final three chef-testants who competed for the Top Chef title in Napa Valley. Gillespie was also voted fan favorite by the viewers of Top Chef.

As a rising young culinary star who brings more than just good food to the table, Gillespie was named one of Mother Nature Network’s top “40 Chefs Under 40” in November 2009, for linking farms to forks and promoting better health for people and the planet. In February of 2010, he was honored as one of’s “Top Five Rising Chefs” and named as a semifinalist for the James Beard Foundation’s “Rising Star Chef of the Year” award. A few months later, in June, Gillespie was invited to prepare a meal at the James Beard House in New York City, and was also featured on Cooking with Emeril on SIRIUS XM Radio. In 2010, Gillespie was selected as a celebrity chef ambassador for the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program and also received The Art Institute of Atlanta’s Distinguished Alumni Award for his outstanding accomplishments in the restaurant industry. In 2011, Gillespie was again named a semifinalist for the James Beard Foundation’s “Rising Star Chef of the Year” award and was nominated for Food & Wine’s “The People’s Best New Chef.” Gillespie has even been honored in cartoon form; in September 2011, he performed the voice-overs for his own character on the season premiere of Squidbillies on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim. In November 2011, Gillespie served as a keynote speaker for the international conference of Les Dames d’Escoffier.

During Gillespie’s time at Woodfire Grill, the restaurant has been featured on CNN and in Travel + LeisureFood & Wine, and Men’s Health as a dining destination for visitors to Atlanta. When he is not at the restaurant, Gillespie can be found participating in culinary events around the country, including the Charleston Food and Wine FestivalSerenbe Southern Chef SeriesCharlie Palmer’s Pigs & PinotHigh Museum Atlanta Wine AuctionMusic to Your Mouth Festival, and Top Chef: The Tour. Additionally, he has partnered with Morelli’s Gourmet Ice Cream to open a second location of the shop in Atlanta, and creates a selection of seasonal sundaes for the shop. Gillespie resides in the Ormewood Park neighborhood of Atlanta, with his wife, Valerie. He is a member of Slow Food AtlantaSouthern Foodways AllianceChefs CollaborativeGeorgia Organics, and the Society for the Preservation of  Traditional Southern Barbecue. In his spare time, he enjoys camping, playing music, and barbecuing.

David Joachim has authored, edited, or collaborated on more than 35 cookbooks, including the International Association of Culinary Professionals award–winning The Food Substitutions Bible and the New York Times best-sellers A Man, a Can a Grill and Mastering the Grill, coauthored with Andrew Schloss. His book The Science of Good Food was an IACP award winner, a James Beard Award finalist, and a World Food Media award finalist for Best Food Book. His latest book is Rustic Italian Food, written with James Beard Award-winning chef Marc Vetri. He is the cofounder of Chef Salt, a line of artisanal salt seasoning blends. He is also a pyromaniac from birth and owns more than 10 grills. His Web site is

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Customer Reviews

I loved watching Kevin cook on Top Chef.
Southern Traveler
Besides being delicious recipes, there are many ideas and very interesting stories about the author!
Brenda Vandiver
I like the layout because he takes the time to explain his methods and his choices.
Christopher Bender

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By M. Lucey Bowen on October 18, 2012
Format: Hardcover
My favorite grownup is my paternal grandmother. Born and raised in Waxahachie, Texas, she had deep roots stretching back to Colonial Virginia, red-dirt South Carolina and all the states in between. She coild hardly boil an egg. Kevin Gillespie's grandmother could make anything edible. For both of us, tho, grandmothers are a touchstone for food as family, food as hospitality, food as history and identity. I read Kevin's cookbook from cover-to-cover in one sitting. He's that good a writer. As for the recipes, this is a unique cookbook, I've never seen anything like it and I've about 200 cookbooks in my collection, and 30 years of Gourmet. Rather than a division into starters, mains, sides and desserts, he's given us a startling insight into thinking about American cooking, and American eating. Three categories of recipes make this clear and memorable. He revisits some old school classics and makes them new again, by showing us how to bring their flavor out, and cause us to forget unfortunate versions from our past. Next is a set of recipes for food some or many people profess to hate, like liver, sweetbreads, and okra I suspect even my husband who actually loves all of those, will want to try Kevin's version. And of greatest interest to me, living in California, but with a Southern grandmother and now a daughter whose adopted the South as her home, Kevin's fashioning of the foods he grew up with, from both red-dirt and low-country. Top Stuff!
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Southern Traveler on October 18, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Bacon Is My Jam"! This has become my cooking mantra since I first heard Kevin utter that phrase on Top Chef (Man, I wanted you to win that contest). This mantra was certainly reinforced seeing the look on Daniel Boulud's face when he tasted that bacon jam - a look of revelation. This book is Kevin and it too is a revelation of him and his cooking. I can just hear his voice with every turn of the page (one frequently used word I wish you'd left out). Good, fresh, local, seasonal ingredients are his instruction to you. There are plenty of recipes and photos so you can cook Kevin's food. Nothing wrong with that! However, you can't shake the encouragements that Kevin wants you to stretch out and begin to cook your food. I loved watching Kevin cook on Top Chef. The stories in this book gave me insight into the how and why he cooks as he does. This book is clever, sharp, and informative. I cannot recommend it more highly. The table of contents is very creative and just sets the tone for a delightful experience. Well done Kevin! Recipe for Bacon Jam is on page 309. I am a happy man!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Debra A Ollom on March 4, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition with Audio/Video Verified Purchase
Fire in my Belly is a terrific cookbook. But more than that, it is a glimpse into the life of Chef Kevin. I recommend reading it like a novel before you try any of the recipes. Kevin/David really did a great job of bringing Kevin's history to life in the book. I find the stories as much or more inspiring as the recipes. I've tried many of the recipes in the book. Some favorites are the Coca-Cola pot roast, the imitation chick-fil-a sandwich, the fennel/orange salad and the salmon croquettes. I've eaten at both Woodfire Grill (when Kevin was there) and Gunshow. I love how Kevin's recipes help you make restaurant quality meals at home. This book is a fantastic, real-life translation of how to cook restaurant quality dishes at home. Kevin - write another one!!! You can't go wrong buying this book, whether you love to cook or just enjoy Kevin's personality. A must-have for home cooks and people who believe making great food for the family equals love. Kevin, bring us volume 2!!!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By John A. Galdo on December 30, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have an eclectic collection of cookbooks: from CIA textbooks to Thomas Keller, to Modernist Cruisine or Alton Brown. I collect and read cookbooks (for the knowledge), but for the fun of it as well. And Kevin Gillespie's Fire in my Belly is a worthy edition to my bookshelf.

In the forward, Chef Gillespie speaks about getting people to just enjoy food, family and friends, is the fire in his belly. I have always felt that, and honestly, it resonates with his restaurant in Atlanta, Woodfire Grill.

The book has a unique setup; no longer does it describe "firsts" or desserts. The book is designed to help you make what you are feeling, from Healthy Eating to Junk Food (with my favorite, the Closed on Sunday Chicken Sandwich).

Reading the book feels like having a friend discuss food, or what you are going to have for dinner. And that is what this is. An extremely easy read cookbook, without the complicated Modernist techniques (though awesome), designed for the home cook to make a great family meal.
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By M. Brown on November 10, 2014
Format: Hardcover
I want to love this cookbook, but so far, I'd give it somewhere between 3.5 and 4 stars. Of the recipes I've made, they seem to fall into either the "very good, definitely make again" category or the "very underwhelming, don't bother" category. In the former, the Tomato-Braised Greens are simple and delicious. There are no obscure or difficult-to-find ingredients and the results are just plain good Southern eating. We also loved the Chorizo Hash Stuffed Potatoes. The lime creme fraiche was a delicious discovery. The Ricotta-Stuffed Poblanos are wonderful as well. In the later category, I would have to say the Southern Revival Potato Salad was a very much just ok and certainly not in my top five potato salads of all time. I was very excited to make the Tomate Frito as tomatoes in any form are one of my favorite things on the planet, but this was actually inedible. Too salty (and I do use Diamond Crystal kosher salt as many books, including this one, use it as the standard) and too bitter (I think from the orange peel). I actually ended up throwing it out and that is not something I do, um, EVER. I couldn't redeem it. The Grilled Flank Steak was so-so. I didn't love that the marinade left the meat tasting too much of red wine and raw onion for my taste, but the Chimichurri was very good.
As far as how Kevin writes, this cookbook is a fun read and very witty. I'm southern myself, and I can relate to many of his stories and enjoyed feeling that you get some insight into his background and why he cooks how and what he does. I wish I could give it five stars, but my experience so far with the recipes has been too inconsistent to warrant that much praise.
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