Welcome to Food & Wine with Johanna!

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Welcome to a brand new Book Passage blog dedicated to our abundant and star-studded food and wine programs, Cooks with Books, Dining with Writers, Book & Bites, and Café events. 

“It seems to me that our three basic needs, for food and security and love, are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think of one without the others. So it happens that when I write of hunger, I am really writing about love and the hunger for it, and warmth and the love of it and the hunger for it… and then the warmth and richness and fine reality of hunger satisfied… and it is all one.”
-M.F.K. Fisher

Welcome to a brand new Book Passage blog dedicated to our abundant and star-studded food and wine programs, Cooks with Books, Dining with Writers, Book & Bites, and Café events. 

Many of you may already know me. I have worked at Book Passage for the last five years as an event host. What you may not know is that my real passion is for anything food and wine related.  I started my career working in restaurants and then at a wine magazine for many years. After having children, I found myself at Book Passage and discovered it was the perfect compliment to my life as a mother, a perfect way to balance the dueling demands of family life and a life of my own. Book Passage itself is like being part of much larger family, a very supportive, very busy family. And so of course, I like to hang out in that larger family’s kitchen, see what’s cooking, and maybe add some of my own ingredients along the way. 

This fall in particular, Book Passage is busy in the kitchen. We have a spectacular lineup of all-star chefs – Ruth Reichl, Jacques Pepin, Emeril Lagasse, just to name a few - ready to talk to all of you - over food and wine, about their books, about their passion for their craft, and about what drives and inspires them to press on and continually create new and better dishes. 

The season kicked off Saturday night with Cat Cora’s Dining with Writers event, celebrating her memoir Cooking As Fast As I Can, a candid take on her fascinating and often provocative life. Cat’s resume includes such titles as world-class chef, restaurateur, humanitarian, and first and only female Iron Chef. Her memoir, however, reveals the story behind the resume, a raw and touchingly open look at her life thus far. In it she describes the emotional imprints of her childhood, how those imprints transmuted themselves into her steely drive to succeed, and how she navigated her career during a time female chefs were the exception, not the rule. Simply put, it’s an addictive read.

The event was held at the Spinster Sisters in Santa Rosa, a cutting edge restaurant in the arts district of Santa Rosa, SofA, as the locals say, a perfect venue for some of our most fun events. Cat held forth at the bar, greeting her adoring fans as they arrived, signing books and chatting them up. 

Her gracious spirit and sense of fun elevated an already lively crew – literally even, when mid meal Cat orchestrated a fantastic, multi-table wave. Laughter and loud conversation were the music of the evening; strangers became friends over a sumptuous feast served family style. The menu, created by Executive Chef/Owner Liza Hinman, was an eye-rollingly delicious spread honoring Cat’s Greek and Southern roots. The moments were savored up until the end, as the crowd slowly dwindled, and Cat took her leave. Everyone was glowing, friends, all satiated and better for having joined the fray.

 

Books: 

Cooking as Fast as I Can: A Chef's Story of Family, Food, and Forgiveness By Cat Cora Cover Image