Burn the Place
A singular, powerfully expressive debut memoir that traces one chef's struggle to find her place and what happens once she does.Burn the Place is a galvanizing memoir that chronicles Iliana Regan's journey from foraging on the family farm to running her Michelin-starred restaurant, Elizabeth. Her story is raw like that first bite of wild onion, alive with startling imagery, and told with uncommon emotional power.Regan grew up the youngest of four headstrong girls on a small farm in Northwest Indiana. While gathering raspberries as a toddler, Regan preternaturally understood to pick just the ripe fruit and leave the rest for another day. In the family's leaf-strewn fields, the orange flutes of chanterelles beckoned her while they eluded others.Regan has had this intense, almost otherworldly connection with food and the earth it comes from since her childhood, but connecting with people has always been more difficult. She was a little girl who longed to be a boy, gay in an intolerant community, an alcoholic before she turned twenty, and a woman in an industry dominated by men--she often felt she "wasn't made for this world," and as far as she could tell, the world tended to agree. But as she learned to cook in her childhood farmhouse, got her first restaurant job at age fifteen, taught herself cutting-edge cuisine while running a "new gatherer" underground supper club, and worked her way from front-of-house staff to running her own kitchen, Regan found that food could help her navigate the strangeness of the world around her.Regan cooks with instinct, memory, and an emotional connection to her ingredients that can't be taught. Written from that same place of instinct and emotion, Burn the Place tells Regan's story in raw and vivid prose and brings readers into a world--from the Indiana woods to elite Chicago kitchens--that is entirely original and unforgettable.

Burn the Place Details

TitleBurn the Place
Author
ReleaseJul 16th, 2019
PublisherAgate Midway
ISBN-139781572842670
Rating
GenreAutobiography, Memoir, Nonfiction, Food and Drink, Food, Biography Memoir, LGBT, Culinary, Cookbooks, Cooking, Biography, Food Writing

Burn the Place Review

  • Kasa Cotugno
    January 1, 1970
    I chose this because some of my most beloved books, beginning with Kitchen Confidential, have been memoirs by established chefs and Iliana Regan's arc seemed to echo that of Gabrielle Hamilton. Yes there are similarities. Both come from large, unconventional families, with a strong background in earth to table cooking, both have college degrees in writing but not in food services, they share sexual identities and have michelin starred restaurants that thrive thanks to their instinctual style of I chose this because some of my most beloved books, beginning with Kitchen Confidential, have been memoirs by established chefs and Iliana Regan's arc seemed to echo that of Gabrielle Hamilton. Yes there are similarities. Both come from large, unconventional families, with a strong background in earth to table cooking, both have college degrees in writing but not in food services, they share sexual identities and have michelin starred restaurants that thrive thanks to their instinctual style of cookery. Both are artists. Both have had stories to tell. Forthright and badass, Iliana's personna belies her past. In videos, she comes across very softspoken, which aligns with her self description of introverted shyness. Becoming a boss, owning her own place and establishing control, came with its own set of challenges, as she realized in order to succeed she had to set her own rules in the pressure cooker atmosphere on the cooking line (a culture described by Bourdain as testosterone-fueled). But succeed she has, coming to grips with her "alcohol allergy" and finding happiness in her personal life. And running three establishments with her signature style, all in Chicago. Can't wait to go there so I can visit these places.
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  • Viral
    January 1, 1970
    Thanks to Agate Midway for the ARC at BEA 2019!I wasn't particularly interested in this book at first, because I thought it was just a chef's memoir. I sure am glad I got it and read it anyways, because it is so much more than that! This book is Regan's memoir about growing up with gender dysphoria, facing discrimination, homo/transphobia, and general bullying growing up. It then shows Iliana struggle living paycheck to paycheck and struggle with drug addiction in her 20s as she tries to make it Thanks to Agate Midway for the ARC at BEA 2019!I wasn't particularly interested in this book at first, because I thought it was just a chef's memoir. I sure am glad I got it and read it anyways, because it is so much more than that! This book is Regan's memoir about growing up with gender dysphoria, facing discrimination, homo/transphobia, and general bullying growing up. It then shows Iliana struggle living paycheck to paycheck and struggle with drug addiction in her 20s as she tries to make it as a chef. We then see Iliana start her own restaurant and see it struggle but succeed, and build something Regan can be proud of. It's a powerful and moving tale. Highly recommend!
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  • Sam
    January 1, 1970
    This memoir by Ilana Regan shows her life through glimpses, from childhood self proclaimed hillbilly, on to substance abusing young adult, and finally to a successful chef/restaurant owner, with reflection in all three sections on her sexuality. The book was an entertaining read but I would not be a target reader, since I no longer am interested reading about the rock and roll lifestyle of others. For me the charm was in the less dramatic moments where the author began hunting and sautéing This memoir by Ilana Regan shows her life through glimpses, from childhood self proclaimed hillbilly, on to substance abusing young adult, and finally to a successful chef/restaurant owner, with reflection in all three sections on her sexuality. The book was an entertaining read but I would not be a target reader, since I no longer am interested reading about the rock and roll lifestyle of others. For me the charm was in the less dramatic moments where the author began hunting and sautéing chanterelles with her father or learned to mix bread dough with her uncle. The memoir is written in a less formal,episodic style that fits the tone the author suggests, but did not suit me. This book melded well with the rest of the diverse mix of nonfiction on the National Book Award longlist and ought to be an good option for book clubs.
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  • Katie/Doing Dewey
    January 1, 1970
    Summary:A fascinating memoir, enjoyable both for the author's emotional account of her struggles and for the cool technical details of her career.Iliana Regan is perhaps best known for her Michelin-starred restaurant, Elizabeth, but I first heard of her as the author of this National Book Award long-listed memoir. The book blurb sells it as searingly honest, which it is. It covers the sort of difficult topics the phrase 'searingly honest' conjures, like Iliana's struggle with alcoholism and her Summary: A fascinating memoir, enjoyable both for the author's emotional account of her struggles and for the cool technical details of her career.Iliana Regan is perhaps best known for her Michelin-starred restaurant, Elizabeth, but I first heard of her as the author of this National Book Award long-listed memoir. The book blurb sells it as searingly honest, which it is. It covers the sort of difficult topics the phrase 'searingly honest' conjures, like Iliana's struggle with alcoholism and her difficulty accepting her sexuality. But her honesty also led to some surprising moments of humor, often through unexpected profanity. Her honesty definitely helped me feel involved in her life, but the primary strength I identified in this book was the author's ability to tell a good story. As a child, she describes escaping into her imagination and now she says uses her menus to tell stories. That ability carries over to her memoir as well.This is a book with three distinct parts. The first section focuses on her childhood. Every chapter is anchored by a vivid description of preparing and eating food. The second section is about her struggle with alcoholism. The author worked at restaurants, but food is pushed to the margins in these stories. The final section focuses on the founding of her restaurants. I found the first two sections to be the strongest. They have the feel of an origin myth. Although the author shares her age at the beginning of each vignette, their disconnection from one another made them feel timeless. I had to really focus to remember how old the author was in each one. Each chapter felt pivotal to the formation of the author's identity. Her ability to identify these formative moments in her history gave the stories a real sense of purpose.The last section was also enjoyable, but felt more rushed and less purposeful than the earlier sections. I loved hearing about her scientific approach to cooking. Other fascinating topics in this section included: the creative dishes she makes; her experiences learning how to manage people; and how she dealt with sexism in the kitchen. However, we cover about the same amount of her life in this last third of the book as we did in the first two thirds. Sometimes I wanted a lot more about how she got from one point to another or on a given topic. The founding of her second restaurant and her relationship with her wife got particularly little page space. Other chapters at the end felt like a grab-bag of stories from earlier in her life that she hadn't been able to fit into the (mostly) linear narrative.While I didn't think the last section was quite as strong as the first two, it was a satisfying conclusion built on a strong foundation. Having heard about the author's struggles in moving detail, getting to hear about her successes was really lovely. Unlike another cooking memoir I read recently (Notes From a Young Black Chef), Iliana has achieved enough and crafted her story carefully enough that her memoir had a satisfying arc to it. I could see the strengths she built on, the challenges she overcame, and how they led to her success. It was well written and her honesty drew me in. This was a very strong memoir and I'd highly recommend it. If you're interested in any of the following topics especially, don't miss this - growing up in the country; struggling with being gay and queer as a child; alcoholism; or working in the restaurant industry.Last but not least, I've managed to avoid seeing the National Book Award shortlist, so I can still make a prediction about whether this will make it. Although I'm giving this five stars and I think it's a great memoir, I'm going to guess it won't make the shortlist. Compared to last year's shortlist, this deals with a much narrower topic. Although Iliana deals with some challenges in her life, she only addresses them as they relate to her personally. She includes little to no research, just her lived experience. That made this much less information rich than the books on last year's shortlist. It was a great read though, so I wouldn't be too surprised if it proves me wrong :)This review was originally posted on Doing Dewey
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  • Megan Prokott
    January 1, 1970
    I felt very moved by Regan’s honesty and her ability to forge her own path throughout this book, but especially as she speaks about her sexuality and the trials of being gay in rural American. I look around Chicago today and see a flourishing Pride parade, rainbows on every corner, and outspoken acceptance of the queer population. It’s easy to forget that things weren’t always that way and things still aren’t that way in so many places. Reading about Regan’s conflict with her own gender as a I felt very moved by Regan’s honesty and her ability to forge her own path throughout this book, but especially as she speaks about her sexuality and the trials of being gay in rural American. I look around Chicago today and see a flourishing Pride parade, rainbows on every corner, and outspoken acceptance of the queer population. It’s easy to forget that things weren’t always that way and things still aren’t that way in so many places. Reading about Regan’s conflict with her own gender as a very small child and watching how this manifested throughout her life in different ways was really moving to me and, I would imagine, not the easiest thing to share. Burn the Place is a very honest, personal account that can be considered more in the LGBTQ canon than in the food lit collections. FULL REVIEW HERE: http://meganprokott.com/burn-the-plac...
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  • Ron
    January 1, 1970
    Like Iliana Regan, I was raised a short hop off US 421 in northwest Indiana, in the middle of nowhere, with limited role models for who or what I might eventually become. We were 90 minutes or less from Chicago, where we would both spend much of our adult years, but worlds away. “Burn the Place” reminds me that so much of our becoming is the struggle of kids in such an environment – to work our way through and out of such landscapes, and for some of us, back home again, to the exact places we Like Iliana Regan, I was raised a short hop off US 421 in northwest Indiana, in the middle of nowhere, with limited role models for who or what I might eventually become. We were 90 minutes or less from Chicago, where we would both spend much of our adult years, but worlds away. “Burn the Place” reminds me that so much of our becoming is the struggle of kids in such an environment – to work our way through and out of such landscapes, and for some of us, back home again, to the exact places we were raised, and/or to similar, familiar terrain. Like Iliana, I found solace and wonder in nature, often in solitude. The landscape of “the Region” is not the most spectacular in the world, by traditional definitions of grandeur, but if you get quiet and look closely, you’ll discover wonders to pack away and comfort you through life. Tadpoles, mushrooms, cattails, sandhill cranes, milkweed. Landscapes of corn fields and pastures and forests and dunes and ponds left behind by glaciers. Changing seasons and light unlike anywhere else. To certain types of kids, all this was ours alone. When we get into the thick of adulthood, the messiness and dark, is it this memory that powers us, carries us along? Earlier this year I read the powerful memoirs The Chronology of Water by Lidia Yuknavich, and Bettyville by George Hodgman. As with those books, “Burn the Place” will resonate in different ways with many types of readers. Coming out in a small town? Check. Struggling onward through that, as a young adult in the big city? Check. Acknowledging and fumbling through and conquering addiction? Check. Claiming your agency in one professional field or another? Check. Taking chances (running a business, writing a book, committing to life and/or work in a cabin in remote wilderness, finally landing a partner to join you for the journey)? Check. I’m not a foodie, and the author has said this is not a “foodie” book per se, but if that’s your thing, you’ll find lots to enjoy as well. I admired greatly how she has become a superstar in the food world yet was not trained in traditional culinary institutes, nor did she win a television cooking show (a frequent and sort of tiresome narrative in stories of Chicago superstar chefs). Hurray for Hoosier moxie!
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  • Nicole
    January 1, 1970
    "The best book i've read in a long ass time." — me, in a text just now to my friendsThis memoir was SO GOOD. Memoirs are so tricky. I can always tell when authors want to seem relatable, or self-deprecating, or funny. It's hard to be authentic, I get that, but I can spot a put-on tone a MILE AWAY. Iliana gave me none of that. She was brutally honest about herself, whether she sounded "right" or not. I picked this book up for two reasons: first, I noticed the mushrooms on the cover. Second, the "The best book i've read in a long ass time." — me, in a text just now to my friendsThis memoir was SO GOOD. Memoirs are so tricky. I can always tell when authors want to seem relatable, or self-deprecating, or funny. It's hard to be authentic, I get that, but I can spot a put-on tone a MILE AWAY. Iliana gave me none of that. She was brutally honest about herself, whether she sounded "right" or not. I picked this book up for two reasons: first, I noticed the mushrooms on the cover. Second, the title was intriguing. And third, the little slipcover summary mentioned foraging for food and growing up on a farm, Michelin stars, and lesbian. I knew there was a really good story in there, and I couldn't put this one down.Read for mouth-watering food descriptions, hilarious and heartbreaking anecdotes, and a reminder to keep what's important and burn the rest.
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  • Donna Lee
    January 1, 1970
    This book is marketed as a “culinary memoir” that chronicles Iliana Regan’s journey from cooking and foraging on the family farm to opening her Michelin-starred restaurant Elizabeth in Chicago within walking distance of my home. While the book is that, it is also the story of growing up the youngest of four girls in an embattled household, her trying to come to terms with her sexuality, and her struggle with alcohol addiction. Iliana is a born storyteller, and I can hope that she has many more This book is marketed as a “culinary memoir” that chronicles Iliana Regan’s journey from cooking and foraging on the family farm to opening her Michelin-starred restaurant Elizabeth in Chicago within walking distance of my home. While the book is that, it is also the story of growing up the youngest of four girls in an embattled household, her trying to come to terms with her sexuality, and her struggle with alcohol addiction. Iliana is a born storyteller, and I can hope that she has many more tales to tell.
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  • Kate
    January 1, 1970
    A bit sporadic but ultimately very satisfying. Midwest culinary memoirs resonate with me despite the fact that I myself am the type of home cook the views beans on toast as an acceptable daily supper
  • Eve Studnicka
    January 1, 1970
    This is a chef memoir for those of us who hate chef memoirs. Regan subverts every dead horse cliche of the bad boy rockstar chef narrative, giving us instead a tale of rural queerness, escapism, wry humor, and honest reflection. Her voice - like her cooking - is tender and bold with an approachable warmth, a touch of whimsy, and an embracement of darkness that honors to the brutality and grit of a life lived without compromise. She substitutes ego for vulnerability, coyly flipping off the This is a chef memoir for those of us who hate chef memoirs. Regan subverts every dead horse cliche of the bad boy rockstar chef narrative, giving us instead a tale of rural queerness, escapism, wry humor, and honest reflection. Her voice - like her cooking - is tender and bold with an approachable warmth, a touch of whimsy, and an embracement of darkness that honors to the brutality and grit of a life lived without compromise. She substitutes ego for vulnerability, coyly flipping off the socially accepted toxicity of kitchen culture. There isn’t anything we can call her out on that she hasn’t gotten to first. Hers is a story of otherness - of blazing trails in a world not cut out for you. When she succeeds, it’s worth celebrating. This is the gay-ass corn-fed salt of the earth culinary narrative we’ve been hungry for. Like a good sourdough, it’s worth the wait.
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  • Lynn
    January 1, 1970
    I love memories and I love food so reading this book was a no-brainer. The author was an Indianan farm girl who was pathologically shy and thought she was a boy. She grew up to be an alcoholic, lesbian, server, cook, chef, and Michelin star restaurant owner. Her story is a bumpy one but worth the read. I particularly liked the beginning of the book. In it, she describes her life on her magical farm and the food it produced. Her description of hunting, finding, picking and cooking Chanterelles I love memories and I love food so reading this book was a no-brainer. The author was an Indianan farm girl who was pathologically shy and thought she was a boy. She grew up to be an alcoholic, lesbian, server, cook, chef, and Michelin star restaurant owner. Her story is a bumpy one but worth the read. I particularly liked the beginning of the book. In it, she describes her life on her magical farm and the food it produced. Her description of hunting, finding, picking and cooking Chanterelles will make your mouth water. Her tales of drunkenness, blackouts, fights, & indiscriminate sex are not as appetizing but part of her story. Her rise to fame, creativity, allegiance to her roots, and incredible menus will make you want to travel and go to one of her restaurants.
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  • Kevin Greene
    January 1, 1970
    I’m starting to think that “nonfiction by womxn with alcoholism” may be my favorite subgenre of literature.In a year that’s brought Maggie Nelson and Leslie Jamison into my life, Iliana Regan’s memoir joins a generous and empathetic inner circle. Regan has a special place in it as well as the owner and head chef of multiple restaurants in my current home of choice, Chicago. Albeit restaurants I cannot afford to go to but still. Regan gives a fleet and charming, though actively and intentionally I’m starting to think that “nonfiction by womxn with alcoholism” may be my favorite subgenre of literature.In a year that’s brought Maggie Nelson and Leslie Jamison into my life, Iliana Regan’s memoir joins a generous and empathetic inner circle. Regan has a special place in it as well as the owner and head chef of multiple restaurants in my current home of choice, Chicago. Albeit restaurants I cannot afford to go to but still. Regan gives a fleet and charming, though actively and intentionally fractured, tour of her life up to the present. The first two thirds of this book is straightforward enough with some terrific moments captured in elegant and unadorned prose. Regan writes with the clear eyed clarity of a person who has seen some shit, about her life and the people in it. Her book is structured as a series of anecdotes, the “message” and “meaning” of which are delightfully opaque. A world class restauranteur with a literary background, Regan exhibits the kind of skill in multiple disciplines that leaves mere mortals in states of awe and jealousy. And she spares the kind of insufferable and deceptive modesty that hard working and successful people sometimes traffic in. The back third of the book, which is meandering and a little filthy, allows Regan the opportunity to talk some shit and, more crucially, to talk about herself. And while she seems at odds with herself over her feelings about being a gender minority in an industry disproportionately filled with loud mouth men, even her digressions and contradictions are endearing. Regan is someone you’d want to crack open a LaCroix and probably end up on an adventure with. As a recovering alcoholic myself, I recognize in Regan a tendency toward extremes, which she mostly successfully funnels into her work, obsessing over food to the point of achieving mastery. It’s not a connection she draws in her writing but it seems clear enough to me. I believe there is something inherent in the addict that, when applied to a pursuit outside of pleasure or its antithesis (which is not pain but rather the total absence of feeling altogether), can allow that person to achieve greatness. I can’t help but see, in the history of human civilization, a timeline littered with people who might have, had they been able to turn their eyes from the sun of their great desire to self obliterate or to have, to badly quote DFW, “more fun than any human could possibly withstand,” and instead apply that same unceasing drive to something else. Anything else. It’s a great tragedy, I think. But I’m glad Regan found her way out.I feel a degree of kinship with anyone who has passed through the dark night of reckoning with their addiction and come out the other end new in the cold soft light of dawn. For me, this book, copies of which I will be buying for myself and a few other people who I think might benefit from it, serves as a reminder that everyday of sobriety is a victory, regardless of what you did with it, but that a worthy tribute and toast might be to apply yourself to something, anything.
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  • Orla
    January 1, 1970
    I think I have driven everyone around me to distraction talking about this book, and how I want to go eat at Elizabeth or spend a weekend at the Milkweed Inn. It's not just because the food all sounds amazing, and the thought and care that goes in to how Regan develops recipes is evident. It's not just because she's a little nerdy (loves Lego and video games). It's because kid and teen Iliana sounds so much like little me that this book almost flayed me.I may not have had the alcohol allergy, or I think I have driven everyone around me to distraction talking about this book, and how I want to go eat at Elizabeth or spend a weekend at the Milkweed Inn. It's not just because the food all sounds amazing, and the thought and care that goes in to how Regan develops recipes is evident. It's not just because she's a little nerdy (loves Lego and video games). It's because kid and teen Iliana sounds so much like little me that this book almost flayed me.I may not have had the alcohol allergy, or done more than dabble a smidge in drugs at college, and I may not have had someone show me how to forage for food, but— I vividly remember screaming at my mother that I didn't want to be a girl. I was all of ten years old and she'd told me I couldn't run around topless with the boys anymore. That pain, that confusion, that Regan articulates so clearly and honestly. I remember running off into the woods to be on my own and finding peace there. I was completely confused by what being a girl was supposed to mean and it took me a long time to find peace with doing girlhood my own way, doing it "wrong" so that I could feel right in my own skin. I'm a few years older than her, but we have a lot of similar formative moments (or whatever you want to call seeing Boy George or Annie Lennox in a suit for the first time) and we went through plenty of the same shit.I've seen reviews complaining that this isn't a food memoir, that there's too much gender and sexuality stuff, not enough about the restaurant business, no recipes. But I feel like that's all missing something. Maybe it's because I'm Irish and there's a fine tradition of showing care through food over here, but food is a thread through the entire book. Food is memory, food is love, food is sorrow and remembrance, food is celebration. At it's essence, it's life. Iliana Regan's life is what has made her the chef she is today, and this book is a searingly candid look at that life.She namechecks Hubert Selby Jr. at one point and if he's not your jam you may not like this book either, but he is my jam and so is this. Not to say that she writes like him, but that there is a similar quality of directness that builds an emotional heft you don't always feel coming. You're struck by the bluntness and only feel the thorns when you notice you're bleeding. In short, this is a damn fine book and reading it made me brave enough to eat flowers in a restaurant last night.
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  • Laurie
    January 1, 1970
    Iliana Regan is the owner of the Michelin Star restaurant “Elizabeth”, named for her sister who died in a jail holding cell. She was exposed to food a lot as a child- they lived on a farm and grew, foraged, baked, and preserved most of their food, but until the point her mother rebelled at having to do all that and they moved to a city. Oh, and they also helped out in Regan’s grandmother’s restaurant, too. Little wonder her mother got exhausted! But Regan loved working with food. When she grew Iliana Regan is the owner of the Michelin Star restaurant “Elizabeth”, named for her sister who died in a jail holding cell. She was exposed to food a lot as a child- they lived on a farm and grew, foraged, baked, and preserved most of their food, but until the point her mother rebelled at having to do all that and they moved to a city. Oh, and they also helped out in Regan’s grandmother’s restaurant, too. Little wonder her mother got exhausted! But Regan loved working with food. When she grew up, she worked for other restaurant and worked in every station, learning the ropes inside and out. For a while, she ran a small restaurant out of her home, foraging the daily ingredients right in the city. But the book isn’t all about her incredible food talent. As a child she struggled with gender identity. She also had a problem with alcoholism and addiction. She could not sustain a relationship. She was working in a male dominated profession. Being a lesbian didn’t make her any more acceptable. She battled all these things and came out a winner. She’s been married to Anna for several years now, and running a restaurant and a Japanese inspired pub. The book was a little hard to read. While divided into four parts, the story is all over the place, in the present at one point and then skewing into the past. The writing is raw and blunt- descriptions of slaughtering animals, rampant drug taking, and alcohol binges. But it has something that held me. I do wish I’d learned some about her process of recipe creation; one of the most compelling things is that even as a small child she had a connection with food- when it was ripe, how to combine it, how to serve it up. She has an almost mystical connection with the earth and its edibles. Four stars.
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  • Jill Meyer
    January 1, 1970
    Creativity in a person can manifest itself in many, many ways. For Iliana Regan, the author of "Burn the Place", she's both creative in the kitchen and at a computer. Her book, a memoir of the rather interesting times in her life, as well as the people involved, seems to be as honest as a memoir writer can be. Regan is the owner of "Elizabeth", a Michelin one-star restaurant in Chicago, as well as a couple of other eateries. To gain a Michelin star as early as she did, Regan must have come up Creativity in a person can manifest itself in many, many ways. For Iliana Regan, the author of "Burn the Place", she's both creative in the kitchen and at a computer. Her book, a memoir of the rather interesting times in her life, as well as the people involved, seems to be as honest as a memoir writer can be. Regan is the owner of "Elizabeth", a Michelin one-star restaurant in Chicago, as well as a couple of other eateries. To gain a Michelin star as early as she did, Regan must have come up with a very innovative concept and menu.Iliana Regan is the youngest of four daughters. Her restaurant was named after her older sister, Elizabeth (Bunny) who died at an early age. Bunny was an alcoholic, as seems to be many of the members of the Regan family, including Iliana. She and her sisters were raised in northwest Indiana on a farm by parents who seem - by reading about them - sort of hippieish. They were very interested in natural food items and grew many vegetables and herbs on their farm. Grandma had a restaurant and everyone - particularly, though, her mother - pitched in and helped. The family seemed to be artsy and creative in their own ways. But many drank and did drugs. It also took young Iliana time to come to terms with her sexuality. Regan's book's about drinking and blow and cooking and loving and creating a life for herself. Will she stay off the hard stuff? I certainly hope so because she has so much to contribute to the world. I'm just adding a warning that if you're put off by swearing and details of drug taking, you might want to avoid "Burn the Place". But you'd be missing a well written memoir.
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  • Jeannie Boutelle
    January 1, 1970
    Well, for a period of time, I tried to dine at Iliana Regan's restaurant Elisabeth each season. After reading this book, I now realize I have been pronouncing her name wrong this whole time, it is Il-ay-nuh and I have been saying Ill-ee-ah-nuh.After finishing this book, I said to myself "wow, it is amazing she is still alive and not dead. She must have a guardian angel". This is a book about addiction, sexual identity and coming of age and of listening to that voice inside each of us that says Well, for a period of time, I tried to dine at Iliana Regan's restaurant Elisabeth each season. After reading this book, I now realize I have been pronouncing her name wrong this whole time, it is Il-ay-nuh and I have been saying Ill-ee-ah-nuh.After finishing this book, I said to myself "wow, it is amazing she is still alive and not dead. She must have a guardian angel". This is a book about addiction, sexual identity and coming of age and of listening to that voice inside each of us that says "you can do this". She is a great chef but she is a great writer as well. Jeff Gordinier writes "bold and soulful, impossible to ignore" which is printed on the cover. Most cover quotes can be a bunch of hooey. But I would totally agree with this quote. This book is incredibly authentic, haunting, inspiring. I wish there was a little bit more about her thoughts on how she creates some of the food she does. I guess that will be another book. There are those thoughts in the book but it is not a book about food, it is about life choices and her winding path to being a chef, an author, an entrepreneur. She lists out all the ingredients in her life history that makes her the creative and talented chef that she is. This is a very, very good read!!
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  • Emily
    January 1, 1970
    This book packs a punch, it's full of a kind of raw honesty about brutal situations that fills the reader with pride when it reaches the successes in Regan's life. There's no wallowing in self pity or trying to put some grand moral lesson on the hard times, the good and the bad are all facets of her life. It's direct and bold and infused with love for the people in her life.I was close to loving this book but the style held me back. I'm not an audiobook reader but this one made me wish I were. This book packs a punch, it's full of a kind of raw honesty about brutal situations that fills the reader with pride when it reaches the successes in Regan's life. There's no wallowing in self pity or trying to put some grand moral lesson on the hard times, the good and the bad are all facets of her life. It's direct and bold and infused with love for the people in her life.I was close to loving this book but the style held me back. I'm not an audiobook reader but this one made me wish I were. Or better yet, that I could be halfway through a cheap beer while Regan leaned over from the next barstool and recounted all of this, that each chapter could be narrated in an alleyway while Regan and I shared a cigarette break (I don't smoke and she doesn't drink, but you get the idea). It really felt like a story that needed to be TOLD, and on paper, it came across a bit choppy and all over the place. Maybe if you're familiar with Regan and her work versus just picking this up because it sounded like a story worth reading you'll be able to hear it in her voice, or maybe you'll find and love the audio version, but as it is it didn't quite work for me.
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  • Phillip Oliver
    January 1, 1970
    Regan, the chef and owner of Michelin-starred Elizabeth Restaurant and Kitsune in Chicago, writes about growing up on a family farm in Indiana with three sisters. She grew up exploring the woods around her home and learning about mushrooms, flowers and other wild foods that she would later incorporate into her restaurant menus. Her life story wasn't all that idyllic however. She knew she was different from a very early age and describes the confusion she felt with gender issues. Later, her Regan, the chef and owner of Michelin-starred Elizabeth Restaurant and Kitsune in Chicago, writes about growing up on a family farm in Indiana with three sisters. She grew up exploring the woods around her home and learning about mushrooms, flowers and other wild foods that she would later incorporate into her restaurant menus. Her life story wasn't all that idyllic however. She knew she was different from a very early age and describes the confusion she felt with gender issues. Later, her parent's decision to move away from her beloved farm and eventual divorce affected her greatly. An early addiction to alcohol followed and her post high-school years were a blur of drinking and drug binges as well as some nights spent in jail. Her descriptions are powerful as she evokes memories that helped shaped her creativity in the kitchen, her early jobs in various restaurants, gaining recognition for her pierogis and achieving sobriety.
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  • Shannon Martincic
    January 1, 1970
    A candid journey through the development of an extremely talented and unique chef and person. The books journey humbles this genuine creative genius. While it doesn't take us too in depth in her creative process (we want more!) It does give life to the way she got where she is. The story is nothing short of emotional, sexy, vulnerable, and action packed. An amazing account of overcoming all her obstacles, facing her fears and putting on her best suit and handling shit in a mans world. The story A candid journey through the development of an extremely talented and unique chef and person. The books journey humbles this genuine creative genius. While it doesn't take us too in depth in her creative process (we want more!) It does give life to the way she got where she is. The story is nothing short of emotional, sexy, vulnerable, and action packed. An amazing account of overcoming all her obstacles, facing her fears and putting on her best suit and handling shit in a mans world. The story is relatable and super readable. My only qualm is that is seems a bit early in her career for a memoir. She clearly has much success still lying ahead. Will be on the lookout for an update. GIRL BOSS.
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  • Daniela Groza
    January 1, 1970
    I noticed one of the reviews mentioned Iliana is too young to write a memoir. As a young person myself, I say ~ WRITE PUBLISH TELL YOUR STORY ! We grow up with antiquated texts and wise advice from the elder, and it's wonderful to read about lives well lived, they're inspiring and sometimes great lessons are handed down to us. However, nothing like a young memoir, nothing like writing while the fire is still burning, nothing like having less apologies about what was, more spewing pure life into I noticed one of the reviews mentioned Iliana is too young to write a memoir. As a young person myself, I say ~ WRITE PUBLISH TELL YOUR STORY ! We grow up with antiquated texts and wise advice from the elder, and it's wonderful to read about lives well lived, they're inspiring and sometimes great lessons are handed down to us. However, nothing like a young memoir, nothing like writing while the fire is still burning, nothing like having less apologies about what was, more spewing pure life into what is and could be. The immediacy of age is such a boon for any of us tending to our roots, approaching middle-age in stride. I trust this journey is far from over and we will see more and more as it unfolds in real time. Highly recommend !
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  • Terri
    January 1, 1970
    I love food and drink books, I love memoirs of the chefs who create the amazing food and drink. Hyped as "a galvanizing memoir that chronicles Iliana Regan's journey from foraging on the family farm to running her Michelin-starred restaurant, Elizabeth;" I was set to thoroughly enjoy this.Duped.If you want to read about Iliana Regan's exploits with women, you will want to read this book.By page 129 of 259- half way through- the book continues to be of Regan's conflict initially with her affinity I love food and drink books, I love memoirs of the chefs who create the amazing food and drink. Hyped as "a galvanizing memoir that chronicles Iliana Regan's journey from foraging on the family farm to running her Michelin-starred restaurant, Elizabeth;" I was set to thoroughly enjoy this.Duped.If you want to read about Iliana Regan's exploits with women, you will want to read this book.By page 129 of 259- half way through- the book continues to be of Regan's conflict initially with her affinity for females and finally coming to terms with her sexual choice. Which would have been fine if she'd have said so from the get go. She did a bait and switch and instead it's her journey of attraction for women. And her alcohol and drug abuse. Not about food, her amazing restaurants or her cuisine.Not until page 200 with a mere 59 pages left Regan finally begins telling of her journey in the food world.A better use of your reading time for restaurant memoir is "Bread, Bones and Butter" by Gabrielle Hamilton.
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  • (a)lyss(a)
    January 1, 1970
    I received this book through the Amazon Vine program on exchange for an honest review.I think I was expecting more about cooking and less of an actual memoir. Only a small portion of the book is actually about the authors experience as a professional chef and even then after some initial detail a lot gets glossed over.Instead we get an in depth memoir about the authors traumatic childhood, including memories as a four year old but skipping over high school. I personally struggle reading about I received this book through the Amazon Vine program on exchange for an honest review.I think I was expecting more about cooking and less of an actual memoir. Only a small portion of the book is actually about the authors experience as a professional chef and even then after some initial detail a lot gets glossed over.Instead we get an in depth memoir about the authors traumatic childhood, including memories as a four year old but skipping over high school. I personally struggle reading about self destructive behavior and addiction and wasn't expecting the book to be this bleak, so it wasn't quite what I was hoping for.
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  • Dan Gibson
    January 1, 1970
    This is culinary memoir (or memoir-ish) #4 of 2019, which isn't super surprising, I suppose, considering how much time I think about food at work (and let's face it, in life). Regan's struggle to develop a sense of self is definitely interesting and more contemporary than the standard chef's rise to prominence story, especially since there are hints throughout of how she arrived on her "new gatherer" ethos, but I wish the writing were a little better, I suppose? The narrative is clunky at times This is culinary memoir (or memoir-ish) #4 of 2019, which isn't super surprising, I suppose, considering how much time I think about food at work (and let's face it, in life). Regan's struggle to develop a sense of self is definitely interesting and more contemporary than the standard chef's rise to prominence story, especially since there are hints throughout of how she arrived on her "new gatherer" ethos, but I wish the writing were a little better, I suppose? The narrative is clunky at times and the more recent part of the story seems rushed following detailed accounts of a troubled youth. It's not a bad read, but I'm not convinced the editor did Regan many favors.
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  • Amy
    January 1, 1970
    Categorizing this under food is probably misleading. It is about so much more. The first few chapters reminded me somewhat of Educated by Westover, but somehow less extreme and more honest. The author appears to hold very little back about her life - both the good and bad - although she mentions how reserved she is frequently. The last chapter reminded me so much of my relationship with my own Dad, visiting a former family property in the country and the longing for some things to be the way Categorizing this under food is probably misleading. It is about so much more. The first few chapters reminded me somewhat of Educated by Westover, but somehow less extreme and more honest. The author appears to hold very little back about her life - both the good and bad - although she mentions how reserved she is frequently. The last chapter reminded me so much of my relationship with my own Dad, visiting a former family property in the country and the longing for some things to be the way they were. This may not appeal as much to all readers, but I was truly taken with it.
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  • Margery Osborne
    January 1, 1970
    I read this after hearing an interview with the author on Cherry Bomb. I was expecting something similar to Gabrielle Hamilton's memoir. This was similar but different--it was much more hard hitting concerning Iliana's sexuality and early identity and relationship struggles as well as substance abuse issues. It would make a really compelling movie IMHO. I hope Iliana writes more and I don't mean cookbooks (although I would love to see a cookbook). I think she is a very talented writer and she I read this after hearing an interview with the author on Cherry Bomb. I was expecting something similar to Gabrielle Hamilton's memoir. This was similar but different--it was much more hard hitting concerning Iliana's sexuality and early identity and relationship struggles as well as substance abuse issues. It would make a really compelling movie IMHO. I hope Iliana writes more and I don't mean cookbooks (although I would love to see a cookbook). I think she is a very talented writer and she should try her hand at some fiction.
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  • Brenda Richardson
    January 1, 1970
    Intelligent shy girl with great childhood memories of family and food grows into alcoholic wild child. Her grit, drive and hard work only slightly exceed her desire to self destruct. Her obsession with food preparation down to the creation of the perfect bread crumb is impressive. This was a story of alcohol getting in the way of talent and happiness for a very long time. And although alcohol is at the core of the story, for me, it turned the memoir into an alcoholic’s story first and a chef’s Intelligent shy girl with great childhood memories of family and food grows into alcoholic wild child. Her grit, drive and hard work only slightly exceed her desire to self destruct. Her obsession with food preparation down to the creation of the perfect bread crumb is impressive. This was a story of alcohol getting in the way of talent and happiness for a very long time. And although alcohol is at the core of the story, for me, it turned the memoir into an alcoholic’s story first and a chef’s memoir second.
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  • Christine
    January 1, 1970
    Very reminiscent of Blood Bones and Butter. It felt a bit unfinished and was harder to follow with lots of people drifting in and out without it being clear how they served the narrative. Certainly a clear-eyed look at addiction and recovery and written with heart, I just wish the author had allowed 5 more years to go by before writing this because while the view of her journey to this point was pretty clear, the present and future, hopeful and successful as it is, still seems unclear to her.
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  • Colleen
    January 1, 1970
    Iliana Regan, known for telling her stories with food, is also adept at storytelling in writing. She writes of her family, her queerness, her past, her relationship to alcohol and drugs, of rural Indiana and of Chicago, in and around several places I've known. The story is a search for transcendence, where Iliana, feeling both like an alien and also feeling an affinity for the land, tries to find her place by getting out of her head. Sometimes she fails through mistaken practices. But she Iliana Regan, known for telling her stories with food, is also adept at storytelling in writing. She writes of her family, her queerness, her past, her relationship to alcohol and drugs, of rural Indiana and of Chicago, in and around several places I've known. The story is a search for transcendence, where Iliana, feeling both like an alien and also feeling an affinity for the land, tries to find her place by getting out of her head. Sometimes she fails through mistaken practices. But she ultimately succeeds at the search through her connection to the forest and farmland and to the people she loves. Chef has a very wry, distinctive voice I'd love to read more of.
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  • Stevo Brock
    January 1, 1970
    This book was a Best of the Best for the month of August, 2019, as selected by Stevo's Book Reviews on the Internet. You can find me at http://forums.delphiforums.com/stevo1, on my Stevo's Novel Ideas Amazon Influencer page (https://www.amazon.com/shop/stevo4747) or search for me on Google for many more reviews and recommendations.
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  • lex
    January 1, 1970
    so honest and raw. I'm very glad to have read this. beautiful food inspiration. some was triggering (alcoholism, jail time). I felt like the writing was sometimes all over the place. hard to remember where in time she was writing from or about. not a criticism but an observation.
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