Cooking for the Culture is the first book from Toya Boudy, a spirited celebrity chef whose New Orleanian heritage shines through in everything she does. I sheepishly admit that I’d never heard of Boudy before her cookbook landed on my desk—I’m not fluent in TV, see—but her keep-it-real approach and candid family stories sucked me right in, and the voice that (I’m certain) comes through so winningly on screen is front and center here, too. For example: “If you’re going to jump out the gate slanging tartare on the table, you’d better come out swinging.”
Some of Boudy’s food is delightfully simple: shrimp on a bun, fried okra and red beans (served with fried chicken, her favorite meal). But some recipes are marvelously extra, like her praline sweet potatoes with whiskey mallo cream, or her “Expensive Ass Salad” (the best-titled recipe ever) featuring lobster, crab, scallops and a champagne caviar vinaigrette. And you best believe there are all the Cajun and Creole classics you could dream of in these pages.