NOVEMBER 18, 2019

CHEW Cookbook Review: Hungry

Hungry: Eating, Road-Tripping, and Risking it all with the Greatest Chef in the World

by Jeff Gordinie, Tim Duggan Books, 2019. Part 1 of 4.

To create a culinary biography that not only informs readers of the chef being profiled, but becomes something of an adventurous page-turner is quite a feat, but that is exactly what Jeff Gordinier, food writer for Esquire and the New York Times, has managed to create in Hungry: Eating, Road-Tripping, and Risking it all with the Greatest Chef in the World. One part episodic adventure and other part a meditation on what it means to be both literally and figuratively hungry, the book transcends the more commonly produced genres of celebrity cookbooks and various TV programs – even many food magazine articles – which can often seem more caught up in the swirl of celebrity itself than capturing the original fire of art underneath the culinary expression that so often propels many famous chefs in the first place.

Image source: www.goodreads.com

Gordinier does all of this by entering directly into the life of Rene Redzepi over a period of four years, seeking answers to what it means to reach the epitome of one’s craft only to be overcome by the realization that it is time to reinvent one’s vision of food and life and hope to apply it all to the next restaurant. In other words, this isn’t going to be your average subject or approach to storytelling: “I have landed here in Tulum because of the stubborn coaxing of a man named Rene Redzepi. Within the close-knit world of global gastronomy, Redzepi is a figure whose influence might be compared to that of David Bowie’s in music in the 1970’s, or Steve Jobs’s in technology in the 1980’s, or Beyonce’s now. He is the chef behind Noma, a restaurant in Copenhagen that has – for those who follow and chronicle these things – changed the way people think about food.”

Open concept kitchen at Noma via www.nytimes.com

Throughout the biography, chef and writer, among other entourage, travel to all corners of the globe – Sydney, the Arctic Circle, Copenhagen and Tulum, Mexico – where in the very first scene of the book we find the author seemingly stranded on the beach as he wakes up “with sand in my mouth and a glare in my eyes. A man is speaking Spanish and waving a flashlight. I try to remember where I am and the details wobble into place, like a wraith making its form more visible.” So begins his parallel journey toward reinvention with Redzepi.

To be continued….