Recipe for Disaster

40 Superstar Stories of Sustenance and Survival

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Pub Date 14 Mar 2023 | Archive Date 13 Mar 2023

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Recipe for Disaster is a collection of stories and recipes—from a veritable who’s who from the worlds of food, music, art, literature, activism, fashion, and pop culture—about finding comfort in food, surviving the unthinkable, and living to tell about both.

Discover how getting dumped led to author Samantha Irby's Rejection Chicken. Comedian Sarah Silverman tells of the power of the humble Pinwheel cookie that got her through bouts of crippling childhood depression. Culinary legend Alice Waters reflects on how a perfectly dressed salad has carried her and her chosen family through loneliness and uncertainty. Here are forty recipes—some traditional, some unconventional—that commemorate the low points with the same culinary conviction with which we celebrate the highs. Part cookbook, part candid confessions, this book of good food for bad times reminds us that even the worst of days yield something worth sharing.

Recipe for Disaster is a collection of stories and recipes—from a veritable who’s who from the worlds of food, music, art, literature, activism, fashion, and pop culture—about finding comfort in...

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EDITION Hardcover
ISBN 9781797212821
PRICE $27.95 (USD)

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Average rating from 27 members

Featured Reviews

Recipe for Disaster starts so well. The first recipe is Samantha Irby’s Rejection Chicken.

First things first, you gotta get dumped.”

The whole recipe is the story of heartbreak, self soothing, and chopping and cooking.

I like to slice them on a severe angle because it looks cool and chef-y, but honestly? It doesn’t matter! Does anything??????

Same, Samantha Irby, same. I don’t just eat my feelings, I cook my feelings too. Sometimes I need to fiercely chop a lot of things, and sometimes I need to languidly stir.

The next entry is Sarah Silverman’s remembrances about her first depression and the pinwheel cookies that were the only thing that brought her any joy.

As with the above recipe, sometimes the most comforting thing is that thing you bought at the store.

That’s what Recipe for Disaster is – 41 people sharing a bite from their life and the food that got them through it or is the memory they carry. A little memoir, a little cookbook, a little connection with human beings.

I did not intend to start this book and finish it today. When I initially looked at it, I thought I’d read a couple of entries a day and then try some recipes and get a review out in 2023 (it’s publication date is March 14, 2023). Instead I started with Samantha Irby and every time I tried to put it down, I picked it back up until I gave in and read through. Some bites contain a recipe written out in recipe form, some are a description of a meal or food, sometimes there is a memory and then a recipe and you have to assume they are related, because the memory wasn’t specifically about the recipe, but the moment. One bite isn’t about food at all. There is quite a bit of pandemic cooking, both people who took up cooking to pass the time, and those cooking to nurture their families. Not all the food shared was good, but good isn’t always the point of sharing food.

Alison Riley says in her introduction:

Recipe for Disaster aims to remember, without hierarchy or judgement, that our lowest moments offer something worth sharing: stories, food, and the welcome reminder that we’ve all been there.

Mission accomplished.

CW: depression, death, illness, pet death, war, 9/11, loss of parent, reference to childhood sexual assault.

I received this as an advance reader copy from Chronicle Books and NetGalley. My opinions are my own, freely and honestly given.

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The kitchen table is truly the heartbeat of my home. It’s where we celebrate and commiserate the same way- loudly.

“Food is an integral part of our emotional lives” the introduction of this book begins and then tells the stories that prove it. Part confessional and part recipes this book brings the heart.

Foodies will love it.

*will post my review to Goodreads closer to publication

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This is a unique collection of stories.

This book was around 3.5 stars for me.

Focusing on difficult moments in life and low moments this is a collection of stories around food. There's a handful of recipes included in the book pertaining to the story being shared. There's some very famous names in this book like Sarah Silverman, Bowen Yang, and Samantha Irby.

I wish there was some consistency between if the story is a recipe or a story, but the uniqueness of each entry reflects the author that shares it. This is a short and sweet book about some tough times and the food that goes with it.

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I have to admit it. What really attracted me to this book was the cover. But what kept me interested were the essays (and the recipes). Recipe for Disaster is a collection of essays from a wide range of people from the worlds of the arts, food, activism, culture, etc. and they're generally geared toward comfort food. While I may not have heard of many of the writers, their stories were generally interesting and, in several cases like Michael Twitty, very touching. There's a great diversity of writers and recipes, which are as simple as a fruit cup or tuna sandwich. But what is really striking are the photographs in the book - definitely not the typical food styling you see in many food-related books.
I was happy to see that Jacqueline Woodson and I have something in common. Both of us had to face a childhood dinner of liver and onions and needed to come up with creative ways to dispose of it.
Thanks to Netgalley and Chronicle Books for the opportunity to read Recipe for Disaster in exchange for an honest review!

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Allison Riley has put together a collection with an intriguing theme: personal stories of disastrous life experiences and the foods and recipes that made these experiences more bearable.
The most celebrated of this individuals is probably Alice Walker, who provides her recipe for vinaigrette (simple but elegant) and Sarah Silverman, who relates how (store bought) chocolate covered pinwheel cookies saved her during her first experience of severe depression.
All the stories are clearly heartfelt and revealing, sometimes raw; like potato chips, you cannot stop at one.
Illustrations are beautiful and inventively complement the stories. Recommended for lovers of food and personal anecdotes.

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Recipe for Disaster is a lovely book of short essays that depict times in a persons life where life threw them a curve ball and how food played a role in recovering from their own personal disaster Each essay is from a different person. To be honest I didn’t recognize the names of some of rhe author. But that did not affect my enjoyment of their works. I found the stories engaging and reminded me of events in my own life.

The book is a quick read. The essays are mostly two to three pages. As an added bonus recipes are included

I’d like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Qll opinions are mine and mine alone.

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Do you eat when you are upset? Cooks when you are angry? Comfort yourself with special treats? You aren’t alone. Forty talented writers, chefs, performers, actors and more share their cooking stories in Recipe for Disaster, aptly subtitled 40 Superstar Stories of Sustenance and Survival.

Samantha Irby’s essay Rejection Chicken leads and is one of the best. These are some of the reasons why. A sad playlist called “cool funeral.” “This is a meal you are going to eat on the toilet while you weep.” “Now is a good time, while the chicken cooks, to unfollow your ex on social media.” See what I mean? The recipe follows. There are more. Bob Power slowly eats an expensive roast pig at a restaurant as Hillary Clinton loses the 2016 election. Cooking beans a certain way reminds Liz Lambert of home. As a bonus, Alice Waters shares her Chez Panisse vinaigrette recipe. Recipe for Disaster is delightful, fun to read and will make a great gift. 5 stars.

Thank you to NetGalley, Chronicle Books and Alison Riley for this ARC.

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Thank you NetGalley and Chronicle Books for the copy of Recipe For Disaster. The writers share a tough time and the food they made that comforted them. I love reading cookbooks and use recipes mainly for inspiration so the addition of touching life stories was a huge plus. I’m not sure I would actually make any of the recipes, but the different recipes and why they were comforting was fascinating to me. I also like how personal some of the stories are and really appreciated the vulnerability of the writers.
I didn't really understand a number of the photos because they weren’t of the dishes and some didn’t even seem to relate to a dish or even cooking. Maybe in a physical book they wouldn’t seem so jarring, but in an ebook some of them were distracting.
This is a book I would buy for a friend going through a hard time to remind them they are not alone.

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Recipe for Disaster by Alison Riley is a book of varying essays, short stories, and recipes from celebrities and prominent people. I opened the book and found myself unable to stop reading it - Samantha Irby’s opener was so compelling I simply had to keep going! Overall, so enjoyable and interesting - the style changed with each entry so it kept it very quick and fun.

My one comment is the photography really didn’t seem to match the content - it felt gimmicky and random when the essays felt so honest. Don’t let that deter you though, it’s a special collection!

Thank you to Netgalley and Chronicle Books for the ARC - Recipe for Disaster is out 3/14/23.

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I loved this book. A wonderful read from writers and chefs and musicians and artists of all kinds, all about the foods that served them solace during times of heartache, stress, worry or sadness. A great book to curl up with! It’ll make you want to roast a chicken and simmer a pot of beans!

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I enjoyed some of the stories and just a couple of the recipes. Most are not something I would ever make. I liked that there was some artful photography as well. Food is such an important aspect for most of us, so this book makes sense. A lot of times, gathering with family involves food. Food is so comforting, so to pair stories of upsetting times with food and recipes, just makes sense. It's a quick read and good for people who like to cook. There are all varieties of recipes in this book.

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Thank you NetGalley and Chronicle Books for the advance copy of Recipe For Disaster in return for my honest review.

This was a fun and interesting read! Very different food/cooking subject matter for a book, Famous and not-so-famous people write of a struggle they had and how specific foods and/or recipes were a comfort to them. The recipes in the book are not necessarily recipes that I would use---but they are interesting and a reminder to yourself of the foods/recipes that comfort you.

The food photography is beautiful---but a bit confusing as most of the food-related pictures have nothing to do with the recipes that are provided in the book.

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*Thanks to NetGalley and Chronicle Books for the ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.

I read A LOT of food books. Heck, I even lead a book club with food as the central theme. Unfortunately, for me, this book was closer to a 2.75 stars (rounded up). The stories were diverse and cover a number of tough topics, some of which are pretty relatable, but some just didn't quite strike the same cord with me as others did/they fell flat. I also wasn't particularly interested in a lot of the recipes. I did, however, think the photographer was striking, even if it felt a little disjointed when paired with the stories.

All in all, it's an easy read, but not one that I'd read again or really recommend highly.

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A very unique cookbook that features a collection of stories from the heart with a recipe to go with the story. This is a cookbook about finding your own special comfort food when times are dark. I thank Netgalley and Chronicle Books for the opportunity to read and review this special cookbook.

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What a delightful collection of essays, photographs, and recipes describing the impact of food.

This is the perfect book to thumb around when you want to read something touching but not too heavy.

Like a shared bowl of warm soup, this heartwarming collection keeps the reader company.

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Food is something that is part of a lot of my memories growing up and still to this day. I am serious, every Christmas we have challah bread French toast and it is perfect. Memories are around food from the good times and the bad times. This book is filled with those stories from people of all different walks of life. There are stories of hope and stories of times of sadness but all are centered around food and some of these recipes look so damn good. I will for sure be cooking some.

Thank you to Alison Riley, Chronicle Books and Netgalley for my advanced digital copy. All thoughts are my own.

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3.5 stars. What an interesting premise: a collection of recipes, each coupled with an essay which reflects the import and meaning of the recipe and helps detail a certain event or time period in the author’s life. These essays employed a wide variety of writing styles, were written by a diverse group of people and were cleverly assembled. Although I most likely won’t make any of the recipes included here, I definitely enjoyed this read. (The photography was a bit strange, however, and definitely not the type of food photos generally found in recipe books.)

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A variety of short stories from all sorts of people telling about the foods that helped them when they went through something bad - from 1950's segregation to the 2020 pandemic, and everything in between - job losses, watching a friend die from AIDs in the 1980's, being in NYC on 9/11, divorce, depression, the 2016 election and more - here we get the recipes for that perfect sandwich, soup, bread, cake or taco that helps people get through the bad times. Raw and honest but also with a sense of humor and hope, its a powerful collection, if all over the place in style, format and tone.

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I really enjoyed reading this book. Parts of the book reminded me of real life, which I can relate! Five stars from me. Enjoyable read!

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Enjoyed from beginning to end if your a foodie grab this book.Full of essays photos stories related to food and the place food plays in our lives,Honest open so many stories raw real open.#netgalley #chroniclebooks

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Even though the reason the recipes were included were for low moments in life, this book is such a love story. A few contributors weren't all that interesting, but for the most part these were great reads and interesting recipes.

Thank you go NetGalley for the ARC for an honest review.

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Recipe for Disaster is a unique blend of memoir and cookbook. Alison Riley has pulled together stories and recipes from 40 different people. Some you will have heard of; some you may not know about. They all talk about a low point in their life or a particularly memorable moment and a food that they associate with it. Some stories are funny; some are sad. I gleaned some wonderful-sounding recipes and a few food tips (such as: make a big batch of softrito and freeze it in ice cube trays - something I used to do when I bothered to make my own pesto sauce).

In the end, I was left wanting more, so that’s probably the reason I’ve given it 3 stars instead of 4.

Thank you to NetGalley and Chronicle Books for the opportunity to read an advance readers copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

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