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Book review: Don’t try this at Home. Culinary Catastrophes from the World’s Greatest Cooks and Chefs edited by Kimberley Witherspoon and Andrew Friedman

Don't try this at homeLast summer my friend Anna gave me Don’t try this at home when I passed the audition for Britain’s Best Dish. There’s nothing to equal an off the cuff surprise present and this fitted the bill perfectly.

It is a brilliant collection of culinary disaster anecdotes from 33 of the world’s most prominent chefs, from Anthony Bourdain to Heston Blumenthal. The book has delighted me ever since I opened it in her sunny garden way back in June.

In the precarious world of celebrity cheffing, a major culinary disaster could spell death if not handled with expert care. It is, after all a passionate world of heat, egos (all shoe sizes) and large, highly sharpened knives.

The book is a fascinating read. Not the sort of tome that one would pick up and read cover to cover. I’ve read a few chapters on and off over the past six months. This book has been beside the loo, the bed and lolled on Jalopy’s front seat and I still have a few more catastrophes to go. It is perfect reading for when I am feeling out of sorts.

Perhaps the most revealing part is the few innocent questions that are asked at the end of each section:
What do you eat for breakfast?
What dish would you cook in order to seduce someone?
What do you never cook?
What’s the one dish you find hard to get right?

At first I ignored these sections. Then I read them. Last week I started to compare the results. I’ve found that these answers are so are enlightening that it’s almost worth buying the book just to read them. Great editorial inspiration from Kimberley Witherspoon and Andrew Friedman. The perfect present for a curious foodie.


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6 Comments

  1. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Pat,

    It’s a great book. Well worth the read. The AWT book sounds good.

    Hi Amanda

    There’s a lot of Veruca Salt in me, I suspect!

    Hi Sam

    Love reading – don’t have much time for it though.

    Hi Moonroot

    I hated cooking for years. And for many years when I was working in London, only ate sandwiches in the week!

    Even though I enjoy cooking now (obsessed with food) I know what you mean about the delight of growing things to eat. It’s a joy and to me, even more fun than cooking.

    Hi Sara

    It’s a fascinating read. Each personality shines through!

  2. farmingfriends

    This book sounds great. I can’t wait to get it. Sara from farmingfriends

  3. moonroot

    I hope you will still talk to me if I admit [whispers in an ashamed tone] I don’t actually like cooking very much. I like growing the ingredients but T does most of the creative cookery stuff. Even so, I think I might enjoy this book – if only because it’ll make me feel less of a culinary failure to know that even the experts muck it up sometimes!

  4. could this be the start of cottage smallholders book club?!

  5. “Oh, I want it. I want it. I want it NOW!” She said sounding like the very spoiled Veruca Salt from Charlie and Chocolate Factory.

  6. You have piqued my curiosity now!!! Sounds like a very interesting book. I recieved Anthony Worrall Thompson’s Autobiography Raw for a Christmas present and saving it for when I am in my reading mood.

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