This Is Not a Cookbook: A Chef’s Creative Process from Imagination to Creation

Delacorte. Apr. 2023. 128p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780593119693.
Gr 5-8–McGarry discovered a love of cooking when he decided to update his family’s dinner repertoire. Anecdotal stories of turning his bedroom into a kitchen and creating visual masterpieces pepper this part-memoir/part-inspirational guide. He walks fellow dreamers through the hurdles of following one’s passion and embracing creative thinking. A seeming nod to René Magritte, each chapter is titled “This is not...” and focuses on a specific aspect of cooking that relates to a bigger message about innovation and creative thinking. While the underlying messages, including the need to think outside the box and embrace mistakes, are valuable to young people, there seems to be a lack of awareness of McGarry’s general privilege, which might be frustrating for some readers. For example, his parents were entirely supportive of his ventures and helped fund his journey, even allowing him to become homeschooled in pursuit of his dream. Still, one of the most successful chapters discusses the importance of community, partnership, and a diverse team in support of his vision. Dara’s illustrations bring the pages to life, with vivid and cheeky scenes such as a combination of beet and cow. And while, as the title states, it is not a traditional cookbook, Flynn includes some recipes for aspiring chefs.
VERDICT Overall a cute work, this might still be best suited where cookbooks and food writing among young readers are popular.

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