Looking for your next summer read? Pick up one of these memoirs by award-winning chefs and food writers.
James Beard Award-winning chef Barbara Lynch’s retelling of her trajectory to celebrity chef is engaging, frank, offhanded and witty, as well as deeply revealing and moving. All of this, as Lynch proudly attests, stems from her roots in the South Boston projects. From a large Irish Catholic family, Lynch encountered poverty, theft, drugs, violence and trauma but also remains devoted to her hometown. With her telling-it-like-it-is manner, Lynch’s memoir is fast-paced and moves with little fanfare from high school home economics to odd jobs as a chef aboard a dinner cruise to working on the line at Boston’s most prestigious restaurants and eventually founding her own dining empire right where it all started. –BK
No offense to Anna Kendrick (author of 2016’s Scrappy Little Nobody), but what I’m looking for in a memoirist is more than a couple decades of material. David Leite delivers. Starting with his childhood living in Massachusetts in the 1960s, Notes on a Banana spans his life up to the point of actually writing the book. Overarching conflicts are internal: Leite versus his disease, through finally getting the correct diagnosis and treatment; Leite versus his sexual identity, through finally accepting himself; and Leite versus his Portuguese heritage, through finally embracing his ancestry and making a pilgrimage. Being that it’s a food memoir and Leite is a two-time James Beard Award winner for his website, Leite’s Culinaria, Notes on a Banana shows how his relationship with food, cooking and dining transforms as he comes to terms with who he is and how he deserves to live. –WD
Cork Dork: A Wine-Fueled Adventure Among the Obsessive Sommeliers, Big Bottle Hunters, and Rogue Scientists Who Taught Me to Live for Taste by Bianca Bosker
This is a singular dive into the insanity that is professional wine-tasting. Readers learn little else about tech journalist-turned-oenophile Bianca Bosker other than her escalating obsession with uncovering the secrets of smelling, spitting and memorizing the grape juices of the world. The author is a fun writer and a keen observer of the details and characters (especially the intense and dramatic somm Morgan Harris) that keep this book moving, especially from its wonky sections, like the mechanics of taste and smell. Bosker somehow inserts herself into the upper echelons of the wine world, blind tasting with trendy sommeliers in New York City, crashing parties of high-end collectors and visiting various perfumers and scientists around the world to fully immerse herself into answering the question of what makes wine worthy of civilization-spanning worship. –SG