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Everything Is Under Control
Cover of Everything Is Under Control
Everything Is Under Control
A Memoir with Recipes
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One of Esquire's Best Cookbooks of 2020 and one of The Washington Post's Best Food Books of 2020

"In epigrammatic, nearly poetic diction, Grant . . . reminds us of how transformative the junctures where food and life collide can be." —The New York Times Book Review


"What a beautiful, rich, and poetic memoir this is . . . Like the best chefs, Phyllis Grant knows how to make a masterpiece from a few simple ingredients: truth, taste, poignancy, and love."
—Elizabeth Gilbert, author of City of Girls and Eat, Pray, Love
Phyllis Grant's Everything Is Under Control is a memoir about appetite as it comes, goes, and refocuses its object of desire. Grant's story follows the sometimes smooth, sometimes jagged, always revealing contours of her life: from her days as a dancer struggling to find her place at Julliard, to her experiences in and out of four-star kitchens in New York City, to falling in love with her future husband and leaving the city after 9/11 for California, where her children are born. All the while, a sense of longing pulses in each stage as she moves through the headspace of a young woman longing to be sustained by a city into that of a mother now sustaining a family herself.
Written with the transparency of a diarist, Everything Is Under Control is an unputdownable series of vignettes followed by tried-and-true recipes from Grant's table—a heartrending yet unsentimental portrait of the highs and lows of young adulthood, motherhood, and a life in the kitchen.

One of Esquire's Best Cookbooks of 2020 and one of The Washington Post's Best Food Books of 2020

"In epigrammatic, nearly poetic diction, Grant . . . reminds us of how transformative the junctures where food and life collide can be." —The New York Times Book Review


"What a beautiful, rich, and poetic memoir this is . . . Like the best chefs, Phyllis Grant knows how to make a masterpiece from a few simple ingredients: truth, taste, poignancy, and love."
—Elizabeth Gilbert, author of City of Girls and Eat, Pray, Love
Phyllis Grant's Everything Is Under Control is a memoir about appetite as it comes, goes, and refocuses its object of desire. Grant's story follows the sometimes smooth, sometimes jagged, always revealing contours of her life: from her days as a dancer struggling to find her place at Julliard, to her experiences in and out of four-star kitchens in New York City, to falling in love with her future husband and leaving the city after 9/11 for California, where her children are born. All the while, a sense of longing pulses in each stage as she moves through the headspace of a young woman longing to be sustained by a city into that of a mother now sustaining a family herself.
Written with the transparency of a diarist, Everything Is Under Control is an unputdownable series of vignettes followed by tried-and-true recipes from Grant's table—a heartrending yet unsentimental portrait of the highs and lows of young adulthood, motherhood, and a life in the kitchen.

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About the Author-
  • Phyllis Grant is an IACP finalist for Personal Essays/Memoir Writing and a three-time Saveur Blog Awards finalist for her blog, Dash and Bella. She has cooked in world-renowned restaurants, including Nobu, Michael's, and Bouley. Her essays and recipes have been published in a dozen anthologies and cookbooks, including Best Food Writing in both 2015 and 2016. Her writing has been featured in O, The Oprah Magazine, The New York Times,Saveur, The Huffington Post, Time, San Francisco Chronicle, and Salon. She lives in Berkeley, California, with her husband and two children.
Reviews-
  • Kirkus

    February 1, 2020
    A chef and food writer debuts with a lean memoir that revisits seminal moments from her past through tightly composed vignettes. Beginning with her arrival in New York City from the West Coast as a young dance student at Juilliard, we follow Grant's struggles with demanding instructors and insecurities about her weight as well as attempts to establish her identity in the city. Parallel moments reflect on her mother's and grandmother's lives. Under their influence, Grant acquired an appreciation for cooking and good food, which inspired her shift from dancing to becoming a self-trained professional chef. She cooked her way through notable cookbooks such as Julia Child's The Way To Cook and volunteered at a French bakery, eventually landing in the kitchens of top-notch restaurants in the city. Grant is particularly adept at packing a lot of emotion and detail into a few brief lines, as in her summary of her early apprenticeship: "Six months in and I have experienced the obscenely long hours and witnessed the fire hazards, rampant drug use, and misogynistic everything. I have also learned that I am allergic to flour when it's in the air, which is constant in the pastry room. I sneeze a lot. I still want this more than ever." Following 9/11, the newly married author moved back to the West Coast. In rapid succession, we follow her through two difficult pregnancies and excruciating childbirths as well as post-partum depression. However, by the end, we've gleaned little about the important individuals in her life. Her husband, actor/director Matt Ross, is referenced only as "M," present throughout but peripheral to her story. In the last section, Grant offers a selection of favorite recipes, weaving in personal memories and confident advice and further confirming her talent as a food writer. Ultimately, her memoir, composed of brief paragraphs and chapters within ample white space, serves to showcase her writing style and inventive skills in the kitchen. While she fearlessly lays bare many of her personal experiences, the end result feels somewhat insubstantial. A promising yet excessively sparse publishing debut.

    COPYRIGHT(2020) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    March 1, 2020

    Sometime the subtitle really does tell it all. In this case, "A memoir with recipes" is the most succinct yet accurate description of this work; an often raw, stream of consciousness effort, describing the difficulties of being a restaurant line cook and new mother in equally vivid detail. Chef and restaurateur Grant, known for her blog Dash and Bella, shares recollections of growing up, cooking with her children, and dining out with her husband. These anecdotes are intermingled with struggles with fertility and postpartum depression. Food ties it all together; feeding customers and family as well as herself. A somewhat idiosyncratic collection of the author's personal favorite recipes range from pesto to spicy beef stew to strawberry balsamic tart, written in a cozy, conversational style, encouraging readers to use up what's in the fridge. VERDICT A compelling memoir about cooking (at home and at work), life, and making it up as you go along. [See Prepub Alert, 9/30/19.]--Susan Hurst, Miami Univ. Libs., Oxford, OH

    Copyright 2020 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    March 1, 2020
    Chef Grant's first book is the story of her life in food. In snapshot episodes, she proceeds through her early years and cross-country move to study dance at Juilliard. Anorexia and a frightful student kitchen shaped that hungry time, until love and the rekindled appetite that came with it put Grant behind the stove and in pursuit of a culinary career. Relating the adrenaline-surging hustle in restaurant kitchens, including nauseating moments of sexual harassment, Grant writes with bursting energy: "The first order comes in. My chest gets all warm and prickly. Sweat pools in my bra. I yank my ponytail up into a tight bun and fall off a cliff for seven hours." Grant captures life with her husband and growing babies in similarly spare and gripping images, to enjoyably entrancing effect. The book ends with recipes referenced in her essays, and more: tarte tatin, lamb popsicles, avocado bowls, a fridge- and pantry-flexible "California pesto." Narrative instructions match the rest of the book's feel for finding a solid base and then following one's intuition.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2020, American Library Association.)

  • Lisa Abend, The New York Times Book Review

    "Culinary memoirs tend to follow templates . . . so to find one with a truly distinct perspective is thrilling. In epigrammatic, nearly poetic diction, Grant, a ballet dancer turned pastry chef turned damn fine writer, reminds us of how transformative the junctures where food and life collide can be . . . Grant's is a life recalled as we all recall them: in who we were with and what we ate. But distinguished by her keen attention to the sublime detail and a voice as eviscerating as it is lyrical (plus a handful of recipes tucked in at the end), those moments become transcendent."

  • Tim Carman, The Washington Post "No book moved me more than this memoir from chef and writer Phyllis Grant. Written in a form that's not prose and not poetry, but some amalgam in which Grant's observations are both elliptical and elusive, the memoir hints at things so large that words alone don't suffice . . . a brilliant testimony to taking the next step, even when your body and brain don't want to, even when everything around you feels like it's crumbling."
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A Memoir with Recipes
Phyllis Grant
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