Award-winning chef Chirico’s (Field Guide to Cocktails) humorous culinary memoir recounts his love of Italian food that developed as a reprisal against his mother’s dreadful cooking. Growing up in an affectionate Italian family, Chirico’s home life was filled with laughter and music, but his dinners often consisted of canned and frozen foods and perhaps some cold cuts from the local deli. His grandmother, however, was an accomplished cook, and as the author accompanied her to their local markets, he developed both an admiration for good cooking as well as the ability to discern the excellent vs. average characteristics of ingredients. Chirico shares more than 70 recipes, including soups, salads, pastas, meat dishes, and pizza. Each recipe is prefaced with an introduction that includes a family anecdote or compelling facts about a particular item. Most of the recipes are uncomplicated and include easy-to-find ingredients (for the occasional rare product, a mail-order source list is included). Appendixes feature the author’s favorite kitchen utensils as well as cookbooks he deems influential. Filled with nostalgic stories, delicious recipes, and a wealth of facts and tidbits about Italian food, this will appeal to readers who enjoy chef biographies.
– Library Journal
Chirico (Field Guide to Cocktails) delivers a title that is equal portions humorous memoir and cookbook, and totally entertaining. Comically referring to his mother as an assassin in the kitchen and to his quest to conquer the cuisine of his heritage as a measure of self-preservation, he shares his trials and tribulations from starting as a picky eater in a home where cooking didn’t exist to becoming a passionate cook and food professional. His love of Italian food was ignited during a trip to Italy, where he discovered how the locals truly ate. Recipes include long-simmered summer tomato sauce; spring risotto with gorgonzola, ramps, and cherry tomatoes; and cacio e pepe. Along with these Italian favorites, there are some atypical recipes such as baked stuffed tomatoes and lamb ragù. Chirico also provides historical and informative details on ingredients and recipe lineage. Approachable recipes and fun facts make this an entertaining read.
– Publishers Weekly