Wednesday, August 31, 2016

something to food about - Questlove

something to food about
Title: something to food about: Exploring Creativity with Innovative Chefs
Author: Questlove
Publication Date: 4/12/16
Pages: 240
Genre: Food / Nonfiction
How I Found It: Blogging for Books
Date Completed: 7/21/16

Summary: Questlove travels the country interviewing some of the greatest chefs within our borders. He offers us their shared thoughts on food, creativity, shifting culture, and more. Plus, there's some incredible food art photography to supplement the main course.

What I Thought: When I saw this book offered on Blogging for Books, I'd already seen several prominent chefs raving about it, including Anthony Bourdain. It had already been working its way into my consciousness. So, when the opportunity presented itself to get my hands on a copy, I jumped. 

I'm so glad I did.

I have this thing in my life where I have tons of books, but I don't feel like I have a lot of coffee table books. Now, hang with me for a moment. I don't want to reduce this work to a cliché coffee table book. In my mind, in my house, I want the books I lay out for guests to see or perhaps page through to be worthwhile. To me, a coffee table book shouldn't be something you lay out willy-nilly to look pretty or on the off chance someone has a few minutes to kill in your living room. No - I think the books you choose for the most public display in your home should be worth reading. They should be tempting to pick up. They should catch your attention with their visual statement, yes, but the words should be just as engaging. I have tons of shelf books, but so few that I would deem in this category. It's something I'm trying to grow in. Of course, there's not a lot of books out there which meet my expectations for such a job.

So, imagine my delight when Questlove's book showed up on my doorstep not as a normal size hardcover, but closer to a standard coffee table book size. I'm sure the editorial size decision was made to give readers a heightened experience with the stunning pictures inside, but I wasn't expecting it. The cover, as you can see, is interesting and immediately makes you wonder what is happening on the pages behind such an image. 

The inside is even better.

The bulk of the book is interviews. Questlove talks with some of the best chefs in America. While he asks each similar questions the conversations take natural twists and turns, as real conversations so often do. It's clear Questlove was not holding himself to a script. He truly is fascinated by these artists and wants to have real talks with them. 

Because Questlove is primarily a musician, there inherently is a lot of comparison between art forms. In fact, he specifically asks the chefs to equate cooking to a different art form - a question for which each chef had a unique, interesting answer. This line of conversation led to a lot of cross talk between creative mediums. At one point, Chef Jesse Griffiths compares The Cheesecake Factory to Florida Georgia Line. That's the kind of honest, real talk that's going on in these interviews. My personal favorite element of this cross talk is the continued analogy comparing music and cooking. Since those are two of the artistic mediums close to my heart, it was very cool to have one of the brightest minds in music talking about the two with some of the brightest minds in the culinary world. 

Of course, in the midst of talk about art and creative inspiration and cultural shifts in the industry, delightful facts about Questlove and the chefs sneak out, just as they would in real life. For instance, Michael Solomonov loved to order a plain JBC (Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger) from Wendy's as a child. Considering this is still my go-to order there, I loved reading that. There's much more in that vein, but that is a fun example which stood out to me due to my own personal connection.

I thought this book was great. I'm sure you've picked up on that sentiment by now. It's so different from anything else I've read. The photography is incredibly artistic and a little out there, which Kevin thought was weird (he looked over my shoulder a few times), but the art history teacher in me loved. It's much more than standard still life. It's a glimpse into where creativity meets the daily grind for a chef. It's the perfect accompaniment to the thoughtful, entertaining interviews. I'm thrilled to now count this among my few books on display at home. This is a must read for any lover of art and especially anyone who recognizes that food can be art. 

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Quote I Loved: "The best recipes are like sheet music rather than a record."

Rating: ★★★★☆
Will I Re-Read: Yes
If You Liked This, Try: Back of the House / Sous Chef / My Paris Kitchen

A Reduced Review: An incredible series of interviews about food, art, culture, creativity, and how those things intertwine; Questlove has, unsurprisingly, given us something complete unique and completely fascinating.

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