Burn the Place: A Memoir

Midway. Jul. 2019. 250p. ISBN 9781572842670. $25; ebk. ISBN 9781572848269. COOKING
Regan’s debut memoir is an unusually poetic journey from her early years living in a small town in Indiana to her current position as owner of the Chicago-based restaurants Elizabeth and Kitsune. Growing up on a farm, Regan knew at an early age that she loved food and wanted to make it her life’s work. From tales of picking raspberries as a child to crafting eclectic and foraged cuisine at her two restaurants, it’s clear that food is one of Regan’s passions. She warmly tells about her life with her three sisters and parents, and how they accepted her even though she was unsure of her identity, longing to be a boy, and later identifying as a gay woman. Regan explains how her father taught her to forage and hunt, and that she learned to make meals, such as simply sautéed chanterelle mushrooms, with their finds. Addictions came early, as she started drinking and abusing drugs to cope with the difficulties in her life. Struggling to be sober and successful, she eventually rose to the top of her field in a male-dominated industry.
VERDICT A well-written and honest chef memoir, both rough and charming.

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